Above: A recently retired Calgary man not only kept his $40-million lottery win a secret, he’s now giving it all to charity. Francis Silvaggio explains why.
CALGARY – The Calgary man who plans to donate his entire $40-million lottery jackpot to charity is apparently the best man to tell a secret to.
Tom Crist was on a golf course in Palm Springs, Calif. when he got a call from the Western Canada Lottery Corporation confirming he won the May 3 Lotto Max Jackpot.
“I just excused myself to take the call… I was speechless obviously. I didn’t know what to say… it was a very short conversation,” he told Global News on Tuesday, the day after the news broke about his huge win and even bigger act of kindness.
“The only people that knew was myself and Western Canada Lottery (WCLC) in Winnipeg, that was it,” he said. “None of my kids knew, none of my friends knew, nobody. Absolutely nobody on earth knew other than myself and Western Canada Lottery.”
He said he planned on keeping the win quiet, but WCLC has rules that he had to abide by. So he held off until Christmas, because he thought that would be a good time to fly under the radar.
That didn’t happen.
In the past day he has been inundated with calls, including from his four children who found out about the win when the rest Canada did.
“I was the last one to talk to pops,” his 33-year-old son Dallas Crist told Global News on Tuesday. “I called him about a hundred times, but I had so many calls coming in my way [and] everyone was trying to get a hold of dad.”
Dallas said his father is the type of man to do “anything for anyone.”
“The second he got that phone call he already knew what he was doing. It was predisposed,” he said.
WATCH: Calgary charities hope lottery win leads to payoff. Mia Sosiak reports.
Crist, who retired in September after 44 years as an electrical wholesaler, plans to set up a foundation and donate the money to various charities. But, there’s one in particular he wants to help — one that is “dear to [his] heart.”
His wife Jan passed away from cancer in January 2012.
Before she died, she received care from Calgary’s Tom Baker Cancer Centre.
Crist’s family is “100 per cent” behind their father’s decision.
“We don’t need his money. We just need pops. If we could give it all back for mom we would do that in a heartbeat. We don’t care — money is material, family is everything,” Dallas Crist said.
The news was welcomed by cancer survivor Sheila Foster, who credits the centre with saving her life and she thinks the Crist’s donation will help save many more.
“We’ve got a great centre there, up at Tom Baker,” she said. “But it’s quite ancient and it’s very pressured. So, we need this very badly.”
The Alberta Cancer Foundation is looking forward to discussing plans with Crist as well.
“There’s some real opportunities to make a big, big difference,” said Myka Osinchuk, the foundation’s chief executive officer. She said “there are great things that are happening over at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.”
According to its website, the Tom Baker Cancer Centre is “a lead centre for the province-wide prevention, research and treatment program.”
Crist went to the Tom Baker Cancer Center Tuesday afternoon to personally set up what he called a “sizeable” donation — reportedly $1.2 million. He said it’s one of many to come.
Crist said he doesn’t need the money.
“I’ve been very fortunate [financially] prior to this $40 million dollars with the company I was with, so I’m very lucky, very fortunate, so I can look after myself and that’s why I started [the trust].”
Dallas Crist calls his dad “superhuman,” saying it’s not a cliche to say his father would give the shirt of his back to help someone else.
“[I'm] not gonna lie, he’s twice the man I could be,” he said. “I’d probably keep a couple of bucks myself.
It’s his decision. We’re going to support him no matter what he does. “
Crist plays both Lotto Max and Lotto 6-49 by subscription, meaning players can pay for their selections for up to a year at a time.
Subscribers’ numbers are checked for them by the Western Canada Lottery Corp. after each draw and they are automatically paid any prizes won.
“Sometimes I’d get a cheque for $10 or $20, but I never expected this,” Crist told The Canadian Press following the announcement of his win.
His jackpot is also the largest won on a lottery subscription within the Prairie-North lotteries region.
© Shaw Media, 2013