updated 08/01/2014 AT 6:00 AM ET
•originally published 08/01/2014 AT 6:50 AM ET
A Port Huron, Michigan, woman who won a $66 million Mega Millions jackpot that was drawn in mid-June said Thursday that she didn’t learn for 10 days that the winning ticket was in her purse.
Kelsey Zachow, 24, will get her jackpot as a one-time lump-sum cash payment of nearly $38 million and will take home nearly $27 million after taxes, the Michigan Lottery said. She said she had accumulated several lottery tickets in her purse before checking the numbers.
“When the clerk at the store told me I had a big winner I was positive that he was mistaken,” Zachow said in a statement. “There was a long line in the store behind me, so I decided to leave and looked the numbers up when I got into my car. That’s when I realized I had won the jackpot and could barely breathe.”
The ticket for the June 13 drawing of the multistate lottery game was sold at Sonny Tarhini’s Mount Clemens gas station and store. The lottery said Zachow bought five Mega Millions plays that day and her fifth set of numbers, an easy pick, was the winner.
“I jumped in my car and locked the door. I couldn’t breathe,” Zachow said at a news conference at the Michigan Lottery regional office claim center in Sterling Heights. “I pulled in the driveway and got out screaming. My boyfriend thought I was in a car accident.”
After sharing the news with a few close friends and family members, Zachow locked the ticket in a safe. She met with financial planners and a lawyer. On Thursday, the Michigan Lottery had an event in suburban Detroit to announce her as the winner.
Zachow said she plans to buy a new home, vacation in Europe and help family members with her winnings – in part by establishing college funds for several of her young relatives. She also said she may one day buy a convertible, but is in no hurry.
“I have always wanted an electric blue Ford Mustang, and one day I will get one, but helping my family live comfortably comes first for me,” Zachow said.
Twenty Michigan ticket buyers also won $500 in that lucky Friday the 13th drawing.