Collins family stays grounded after claiming $30-million ticket
In February of this year, Gordon and Betty Collins of Placentia were suddenly thrust into the limelight, taking questions from reporters and smiling before flashing cameras.
After they were officially unveiled as the winners of a $30-million jackpot — the biggest win ever for Atlantic Lottery’s Lotto Max prize — the couple spent at least half of the next few months living out of suitcases taking trips.
Gordon and Betty Collins of Placentia chat with reporters at Portobellos Restaurant in St. John’s about their $30-million Lotto Max win in February. — Telegram file photo
But since then, the couple has remained in Placentia at the same house they owned before becoming millionaires.
“Since July, we’re been home pretty well all the time, and we’re just leading our normal everyday lives,” said Gordon, 70. “No one is bothering us. No one is bugging us.”
That they have managed to maintain “normal everyday lives” may have been a surprise to Gordon Collins, who spoke with reporters 10 months ago.
“I don't know what the new normal is going to be," he said at the time. "The old normal don't apply anymore. The new normal — I don't know. We'll just have to deal with it as best we can.”
As Gordon now finds it, people in Placentia treat him no differently than before the lottery win.
“I go down to the local Sobeys, and if people haven’t seen me since we won, they’ll congratulate me, but if they congratulated me two or three months ago, it’s just the same as always. They don’t make any comment on it and I’m treated just the same as anyone else.”
Of course, having newfound wealth does change some things. Betty admits they do not worry so much about the price of goods when shopping, and they might leave bigger tips when served by others.
The best thing about having so much money, for the couple, is how they can spread the wealth.
“Giving to people — I find that very satisfying,” said Betty, 66.
“We try to be generous with our family and friends and coworkers,” added Gordon. “You hear the old adage that it’s more blessed to give than to receive, and there’s really something to it. It can make you feel good to make others feel good.”
Gordon found his mind would race at times over the thought of having so much money instantly and unexpectedly, but it happens less frequently now.
While life in Placentia has not changed so much, Gordon has come across instances where he has noticed others staring at the couple, even outside the province.
“We were up in Sudbury (Ontario) earlier in the summer and we were in a restaurant. This guy was starring at me across the room and he said something to his wife, and she turned around and stared at me too. I wondered why.”
There have been a few phone calls and letters requesting donations, but they have not been inundated with requests. Otherwise it’s business as usual.
“We’re doing our regular house work,” said Betty. “We’re doing our regular outdoors work. Shovelling snow and things.”