St. Thomas couple now $26-million richer after mega lottery win

The $26-million winners share a smooch, celebrating their mega Lotto Max win. OLG

19, 22, 28, 30, 36, 38, 39.

To most, the seven numbers above are random. But to one lucky couple in St. Thomas, it’s those numbers that earned them the August 6th Lotto Max jackpot.

Gerry and Helen Phillips headed to the OLG Prize Centre in Toronto on Thursday to claim their prize.

The pair spoke with 980 CFPL on the phone, and Gerry says the couple started in the 1970s when they first married. They’d play lottery tickets from time to time but never won anything nearly this huge.

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Then just a few weeks ago, Gerry went out for breakfast with their grandchildren when he remembered he had a Lotto Max ticket in his pocket that he had yet to check.

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At first, Gerry says, he thought the prize was $260,000, but when he double-checked the ticket at a convenience store, he was shocked by what he saw.

“Two, six, then zero zero zero, zero zero zero, and I thought ‘it IS the big win!’ I went and got my iPad, I have the little app on it that checks the [winning] numbers, and up on the screen was ‘Congratulations, 26 million dollars!”
Gerry and Helen Phillips proudly posing with their gigantic cheque at Toronto’s OLG Prize Centre. OLG

Gerry says when he broke the news to his wife, Helen didn’t believe him at first.

“I thought he was trying to pull a prank,” says Helen, a newly-retired nurse of 46-years. “Immediately, our future, retirement and children… everything was just like ‘wow, we’re going to be okay.'”

The couple kept their lottery win low-key until it was official, since St. Thomas is a small town, but now they’re ready to start a new life with much heavier wallets than before.

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The Phillips tell 980 CFPL that they’re not exactly sure how they’re spending $26 million, but they plan to take a “bucket-list” vacation, and are taking off on a cruise with their family next February.

In addition to travelling, the couple are also starting a new foundation to honour a close family member that they lost.

“Our son David was tragically taken from us 20 years ago, [he got] hit by a drunk driver, so we want to set up a foundation in his name.”

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This win has allowed Helen to step away from her job and join her husband in retirement, but the pair are not ready to retire from playing lottery tickets.

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In fact, Gerry has a tip for other lottery players.

“I’d put down on the ticket [numbers] one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. I’d say ‘would you play [those] numbers?’ and most people would say ‘no way! That’d never come up,’ but every number has the same chance.”

The winning ticket was purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart on First Avenue in St. Thomas.

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