CALGARY- Friends of a Calgary man who hit the jackpot—and promptly decided to give it all to charity—say they aren’t even surprised by his selfless decision.
Back in May, Tom Crist won a cool $40 million in the Lotto Max jackpot, but word of his big win only emerged on Monday. He was golfing with friends in Palm Springs when he received a phone call notifying him about the life-changing news—but didn’t tell anybody.
“I got the call on my cell and I just excused myself to take the call, and it was Western Canada Lottery in Winnipeg that said I’d won this prize. I was speechless obviously, I didn’t know what to say…it was a very short conversation,” Crist told Global News. “I hung up the phone, went and had lunch, played golf and to be honest with you that was back in May and I haven’t really thought much about it until yesterday when everything started.”
Friends who were with him on the links that day say they had no idea.
“He came back to the course. There was a group of us there, and you wouldn’t have known he won $40 million dollars because he didn’t say a word,” remembers friend Reg Toth.
“He played a little better that day, that was the only difference we noticed!”
Crist didn’t say a word to anyone, including his four children and six grandchildren.
“I guess that’s just me, that’s who I am. It was no big deal, I just never thought about it much. I didn’t know how to deal with it because I didn’t want to be in the media.”
He eventually decided to use the winnings to fund a charitable trust he started, following the death of his wife nearly two years ago. Janice Crist passed away in February 2012, after battling cancer for six years.
“The one charity that’s dear to my heart obviously is cancer, especially Tom Baker [Cancer Centre], because they looked after [my wife]…” Crist said, his voice cracking with emotion. “It’s just a fund that will go on and on and on for years and years to come.”
His children say they are “100 per cent” behind the decision to donate all of the money.
“I’m pretty proud of him, I wish I was half the man he is. It’s incredible what he’s doing, it’s $40 million dollars,” says son Dallas Crist. “It just kind of blows my mind. I’m excited for him, if my mom was alive she’d do the exact same thing.
“If we could give it all back for Mom, we’d do it in a heartbeat…money’s material, family is everything.”
Crist’s friends also aren’t surprised.
“That winning ticket could not have gone to a more generous, caring human being,” said Toth. “I know all his family, friends, coworkers and associates would be very proud of him.”
“If you knew Tom, you’d say ‘yep, it makes sense,’” adds pal Larry Knorr. “He would give it to charity, absolutely.”
On Tuesday, Crist went to the Tom Baker Cancer Center to personally set up what he calls a “sizeable” donation—one of many to come.