Friendly customer let Powerball winner cut in line

(CNN) -- "Everything happens for a reason," the saying goes. But when the little old lady who cuts in front of you in the lottery line wins the biggest Powerball jackpot ever, what good reason can be behind that?

Mindy Crandell has an answer because that's what happened to her.

The 34-year-old mother found out Wednesday that the old woman who stepped in front of her in the lottery line at the Zephyrhills, Florida, Publix supermarket last month bought the winning ticket for the $590 million jackpot.

The jackpot winner, 84-year-old Gloria Mackenzie, thanked Crandell in a statement read by a Florida lottery official Wednesday.

"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 fact, when Mackenzie got to the front of the line, the ticket clerk offered Crandell her spot back, according to a report from ABC News. But Crandell refused the offer.

Mackenzie bought one computer-generated ticket that had the winning numbers: 10, 13, 14, 22 and 52 with a Powerball of 11. Mackenzie passed up a payout spread over 30 years for a somewhat smaller one-time lump sum, pocketing $370.9 million before taxes, lottery officials said.

Friends later chided Crandell that she probably let the Powerball winner buy a ticket that should have been hers, ABC reported.

"The joke was, that's the lady that's going to win it. I was like, 'Yeah right. No one is going to win from little Zephyrhills,'" Crandell, of nearby Dade City, is quoted as saying.

So what one good reason beats out 590 million other ones? Crandell's 10-year-old daughter Mallory, who was in line with her mom at the Publix, found it.

"Sometimes it's better to be patient than rich," Crandell said Mallory told her.

There's also a lesson for lottery players here.

If the line jockeying changed the time when the clerk would have hit the button to buy the ticket even by a split second, the numbers would have come up differently.

"Each lottery terminal has its own random number generator, and there are a lot of factors," the Times quoted Florida Lottery spokesman David Bishop as saying. "If there was even a millisecond difference in the time between key strokes at the terminal, it would have changed the numbers."

So when the next big payout comes up and you're in a long line for a ticket, think about that. And maybe let someone have your place in line. Or not.