‘This is not a joke. Check the tickets’: 31 N.L. refinery workers win $60M jackpot
A married couple. Identical twin brothers. A father and son.
They’re among 31 Newfoundlanders who are now new millionaires, after splitting a record-setting $60-million Lotto Max jackpot.
The winners are workers at the refinery in Come By Chance on the Avalon Peninsula and members of Boilermakers’ Local 203.
The Atlantic Lottery Corporation threw a celebration on Wednesday at the St. John’s Convention Centre — a venue they had to rent because their offices where they normally present ceremonial cheques was not big enough for the anticipated crowd.
Boilermaker Eugene Lewis was the first to discover their windfall, when he checked the numbers at 4:30 a.m. Saturday.
“Oh, I looked at it at first and it was blurry,” he told the crowd on Wednesday with a laugh.
After turning on the lights and getting his wife to double-check the numbers, they started calling the other winners.
Shop steward Sherry Moore Hickey, who is married to fellow winner Lee Hickey, recalls receiving an early-morning wakeup call.
“[My husband] said, ‘You gotta get up! You gotta get up!’ I said, ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong?'” she said. “He said, ‘Cody just called! We’re winners!'”
As she began contacting other members of the group, her fellow winners had some “choice words” for her.
“‘Are you drinking? Is there something wrong with you?’ I told them all the same story: we’re millionaires. This is not a joke. Check the tickets,” she said.
Each member of the group, who all live in the Avondale area, will receive $1.9 million. The community of Avondale has a population of about 600, and there are now eight new millionaires. Specifically, three of them live on the same street.
Remarkably, while five of them have opted to retire immediately, the remaining 26 will be returning to work to finish a project at the refinery.
“We’re union people. We do what we’re meant to do. This is our lives. We’re still going to work all day. We’re going to get up and we’re going to go back to work. We’re going to make everything better for everyone,” Moore Hickey said.
“We’re trying to make it better for our union and we’re representing our union right now and I couldn’t be more proud.”
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The $60-million payout is the largest lottery prize ever awarded in Atlantic Canada and one of the largest jackpots in Canadian history.
A Circle K outlet in Holyrood, N.L., that sold the winning ticket will receive a one per cent seller’s prize.
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