TORONTO – It’s the stuff dreams are made of – the biggest lottery jackpot in Canadian history is up for grabs Saturday night.
The grand prize in the Lotto 6-49 draw will be an estimated $64-million, and Canadians across the country have been lining up for their tickets.
“I just buy one. I figure either it’s a winner or it isn’t. One is all it takes,” said Jeannette Austin-Odina, an occasional lottery player who lives in Edmonton.
Eddie Lightning, another occasional player who bought a Quick Pick 6-49 ticket at a convenience store in downtown Edmonton on Saturday, wasn’t even aware of the size of this week’s jackpot until after his purchase.
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“Oh my heavens, right on!” Lighting said.
Of course the odds of walking this road to riches are pretty slim, to put it mildly – estimated at about one-in-14-million.
The lottery’s grand prize has rolled over 11 times since a $7-million jackpot was last won Sept. 5 by a ticketholder in Ontario.
The previous Canadian lottery record was $63.4-million for a 6-49 draw in April, 2013.
That pot was split among four ticketholders, with each banking nearly $16-million.
Convenience stores and lottery kiosks were packed with customers in downtown Vancouver on Saturday. Outside a busy 7-Eleven, Ken McCulloch said he buys lottery tickets every week “religiously,” but this jackpot is something special.
“It’s a dream in a bucket, what can I say? But you can’t win without a ticket,” he noted.
Curtis Lewis, who was in downtown Edmonton with his eight-year-old daughter, Cianna, on Saturday decided to buy an extra ticket. He’s been playing the same numbers for about 25 years, and thought he’d let Cianna in on the fun.
Both were wearing Blue Jays shirts and feeling a little lucky.
“I usually buy one, but she’s so lucky I let her pick some numbers so I bought two,” explained Lewis.
On the Lotto Max front – no one had the winning ticket for Friday night’s $43-million jackpot.
The jackpot for next Friday’s draw will be $50-million, and there will also be four MaxMillion prizes of $1-million each available.
So what will people do if they win?
Many said they’d give a lot away.
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Austin-Odina wanted to help the homeless. Lightning said he’d help his family. Lewis said he’d give much of the winnings to his daughter.
But even young Cianna said she’d give the money away. She didn’t even want a trip to Disneyland.
There was just one thing she might like to buy for herself.
“A dog,” she said.
Not all Canadians are jumping on the bandwagon. Peter Moskos of Vancouver said he never buys a ticket and considers the lottery a “tax on the poor.”
“Most people who buy them are people who are of low-income status or working-class,” he said. “It gives them dreams of having lots of money but with really very, very poor chances.”