Teacher from Montco claims $46.6 million Powerball prize

Posted: June 19, 2009

A Montgomery County woman, Palmira Nicolo, is the winner of $46.6 million in cash - less taxes - for having a Powerball ticket that matched all of the numbers drawn Feb. 28.

Her identity had remained a mystery until Wednesday, leaving many to wonder who had bought the ticket at the customer-service counter at Plymouth Meeting Mall.

Nicolo's prize is half the jackpot won that day. Two anonymous "longtime friends" in Delaware claimed the other half in April, according to lottery officials there.

The total jackpot was advertised as $174.4 million in yearly payouts.

The winners, though, opted for the lump-sum windfall.

For selling its winning ticket, the mall will get $100,000.

Nicolo, who records indicate is 57 and lives in Wyndmoor, showed up with the ticket at state lottery headquarters in Middletown, Dauphin County, near Harrisburg.

A clue that her life was changing came March 24, when Nicolo applied to retire from her $87,000-a-year job as an Italian teacher at Cherry Hill High School West.

Principal Joseph Meloche said her May 1 retirement left a void. "Pam Nicolo is one of the nicest, most gifted teachers I have ever worked with," he said. "She connected with every child. Every child wanted to be in her class."

Nicolo could not be reached for comment yesterday. No one answered the door at her white, one-story home. The neighborhood of single-family homes with expansive lawns was formerly part of the estate of famed investment banker Edward T. Stotesbury.

"Wealth has returned to the neighborhood!" said neighbor Tom Hanson.

Hanson, who lives across the street, said Nicolo lived with her husband and two adult daughters.

"They're a close family," he said. "They've been living there a long time, probably like 20 years."

Nicolo is Pennsylvania's 13th Powerball jackpot winner - and the one who took the longest to come forward.

The previous mark of 66 days was established by Edward Varley of Hatfield in 2002. He collected $30.8 million in cash.

The last Powerball winner in Pennsylvania was York's Myrna Shearer, who won $30.2 million cash in the Oct. 29 drawing.

The biggest Powerball jackpot won in Pennsylvania was worth $110 million. It was hit in May 2004 by Steven and Kristine White - of Skillman, N.J.

Powerball is played in 30 states.

Tomorrow's annuity jackpot will be worth an estimated $86 million, or $41.9 million cash.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writer Kristin E. Holmes contributed to this article.

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