Aug. 1, 2014 – Twenty-four-year-old Kelsey Zachow was working as a bartender and as a medical assistant at a hospital to support her 7-month-old son, her boyfriend, and his 5-year-old daughter.
On the unluckiest day of the June – Friday the 13th – everything changed for Zachow when she matched the six winning numbers drawn in that night’s Mega Millions drawing.
It wasn’t until 10 days later that Zachow went to check her tickets at a local retailer, and the cashier said she had a big win on her hands.
After checking the winning numbers in her car outside that retailer, Zachow said “could barely breathe,” as she rushed home to share the good news.
“I was screaming ‘I won! I won!’ at the top of my lungs… I was yelling so much [my boyfriend] thought I had been in a car accident or hit someone on my way home,” she said. “He finally looked at the ticket and couldn’t believe his eyes.”
Zachow’s Mega Millions ticket – a Quick Pick – matched the five white numbers, 7, 38, 46, 49, 56 and the Mega Ball, 1, to win her $66 million jackpot.
At a press conference at the Michigan Lottery Thursday, Zachow opted for the one-time, lump sum cash option for her prize. After taxes, she’ll receive about $27 million.
Zachow said she used the six weeks since her win to gather a team of financial advisers and lawyers to help her manage her newfound wealth.
She told Michigan Lottery officials and members of the media at Thursday’s press conference that she had planned to continue working, but when she spoke with her bosses about her situation, they both asked her “What are you doing here? Why are you here?”
So she quit. Zachow said she plans to put aside college tuition for her son and her boyfriend’s daughter, to buy a home and a new car – an electric blue Ford Mustang she’s been dreaming about. She’ll also take vacations to Europe, especially Ireland, where many of her boyfriend’s family members live.
But all the fun stuff can wait a bit longer. “Helping my family live comfortably comes first for me,” Zachow said Thursday.