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Record Powerball winner offers $2M to fix Maine high school's roof

Jul 26, 2013, 11:00 am

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The 84-year-old Florida resident who scored the largest undivided American lottery jackpot ever wants to donate $2 million to fix the roof of a Maine high school in her hometown.

Gloria MacKenzie, who took home a $590.5 million Powerball jackpot in June, has kept a low profile since she turned in her winning ticket. But the superintendent of schools in East Millinocket, Maine, says Mackenzie has offered to write a hefty check to repair the roof of the town's high school, where her daughter teaches biology, the Bangor Daily News reported.

"They want their privacy respected, so I don't think they will have any comment publicly," Superintendent Quenten Clark told the paper on Tuesday. He said that family members of MacKenzie, who took home a lump sum of $370.9 million, had given him a "verbal assurance" that she would be willing to pay to patch up the high school's leaky roof.

The paper said it was not able to reach members of MacKenzie's family to confirm the offer.

MacKenzie is a former resident of East Millinocket, and still has ties to the town, according to the Bangor Daily News. In addition to her daughter's job teaching local kids at the high school, her son is a former town selectman, according to the paper.

People in the town of about 1,700 said they knew they were lucky to have the MacKenzie clan around even before the matriarch's generous offer.

"It is kind of amazing," Clark said of the offer. "They lived in the community for generations and they are willing with their good fortune to help the community."

"They take their heritage to heart when it comes to the town and helping the town out," school board Chairman Daniel Byron told the Bangor Daily News.

What to do about the roof at the school dating to 1957 has vexed parents and officials in the town for the better part of a year, the paper reported. In total, a full renovation of the aging Schenck High may cost as much as $7 million.

"I think without [the donation], the school was going to die," Clark told NBC News affiliate WCSH. "East Millinocket was not going to have a school in the long run, and I think with this we'll be able to keep the school going for a while."

The town of East Millinocket, once known as "the town that paper made," suffered a downturn in recent years after the local paper mill closed. Local workers got a boost in 2012, however, after the re-opened plant got an order to print paper for the runaway erotic series 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'

MacKenzie has shown considerable New England reserve since winning her massive jackpot. The retiree wore sunglasses and declined to comment to reporters when she arrived at lottery offices in Florida in June to claim her prize.

Her only public comment has been in a prepared statement read by lottery officials on her behalf, in which she recounted how another customer had let her cut in line at a supermarket outside Tampa to buy what turned out to be the life-changing ticket.

"While in line at Publix, another lottery player was kind enough to let me go ahead of them in line to purchase the winning Quick Pick ticket," MacKenzie said in the statement. "We are grateful with this blessing of winning the Florida Lottery Powerball jackpot."

"We hope that everyone would give us the opportunity to maintain our privacy for our family's benefit," she said.

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