— Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
Betty and Gordon Collins purchased their Lotto Max ticket at the Lawtons Drugs store in Placentia as they normally would any given week — they spend $5 per week on average.
“I told the girl when I bought the ticket — Anita was her name — I said, ‘Anita, give me some good numbers, not the usual crap you give me,’” laughed Gordon. “And she took the ticket out of the machine — ‘Oh, these are quite good numbers,’ she said — and she passed them to me. And she was right.”
Almost two weeks after it was first announced that a winning ticket had been sold in Newfoundland and Labrador, the couple were formally unveiled as the winners of a massive $30 million jackpot.
The Atlantic Lottery Corp. presented them with a traditional oversized cheque Thursday afternoon in
St. John’s to seal the win. It represents the largest Lotto Max win ever in Atlantic Canada.
For Gordon, 69, its his second lottery win. In the early 1970s, he won $100.
“I go to sleep for an hour around 12 or 1 a.m., and then I go to sleep for another hour around 6 or 7 a.m. And in between, we toss and turn and get up and look out the window and wipe the sweat off.”
Gordon said he hopes they will soon take a trip. His only prerequisite — it has to be a place where there’ll be no need to shovel snow. He is considering going to Arizona to watch some spring training baseball games.
Betty, 65, plans to purchase a new car.
“I was going to buy a new Buick this year and I was just waiting and waiting, and now I don’t have to wait any more. I can buy what I want.”
The couple’s current Buick was actually in the garage on the day they learned their ticket was the winner.
“Betty came down to pick me up to go for supper,” said Gordon, who has been a pharmacist in the community for more than 40 years. “She was waiting in the parking lot for quite a while, until (a co-worker) went out to tell her that she should come in — I had something to tell her.”
He took the news in stride as best he could. After sharing the surprising news with Betty, Gordon went home for a quick bite to eat and then returned to work to finish his shift.
For the time being, the couple will travel to Ontario, where they will likely visit one of their two sons. The other lives in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Gordon says the reaction of their son Michael Collins was succinct.
“Holy crap. Jesus Christ,” recalled Gordon with a laugh.
Asked if he is worried the couple will be treated differently by others in light of their newfound wealth, Gordon seemed uncertain.
“I don’t know what the new normal is going to be,” he said. “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.”
Betty said she has felt nervous at times wondering what will happen as a result of their lottery win.
“It’s just that sometimes you get very nervous. What’s going to happen? And then you start crying ... It’s a happy cry, really. Overwhelming.”
Since the Atlantic Lottery Corp. first announced through its website on Jan. 26 that a $30-million ticket had been sold, rumours ran rampant about who the winners might be. One such rumour suggested it was a group of electricians working in Long Harbour who had the winning ticket.
“I phoned Peggy,” said Gordon, “and I said, ‘Peggy, I don’t know who I am. Am I an electrician from Long Harbour? Am I 11 offshore Hibernia workers? Who am I?’”
Despite their newfound wealth, the couple has no intentions of moving away from Placentia.
“We have a lovely home,” said Betty. “I enjoy my home, so I wouldn’t mind staying there.”