'Everything is good'

Clarenville fisherman and son-in-law claim share of massive jackpot

Published on February 24, 2009
Earle Smith, 53 (left) of Clarenville and his son-in-law Deon Goobie, 32, from Courtrice, Ont. claim their share of the $50.3-million jackpot at Toronto's Ontario Lottery headquarters Monday. The two take home $12,574,733. - Photo by The Canadian Press

Earle Smith never imagined a scenario where reporters and photographers would be staked out, waiting to capture his image and bombard him with questions.

But that was the case Monday afternoon as the soft-spoken crab fisherman from Clarenville prepared to face a throng of media at the Toronto office of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. Smith and his son-in-law, Deon Goobie, were there to collect $12,574,733 - one quarter of Saturday's Lotto 6-49 jackpot.

"If I could sneak out with the cheque, I would gladly do it in a heartbeat," an excited Smith said. "But it's got to be done."

Smith, 53, and his wife Winnifred, 56, were in Ontario visiting their daughter, Lisa, her husband and their young grandchild. Smith's son back in Newfoundland, Lee, called to remind his dad to buy a ticket for the weekend's big jackpot. That friendly reminder has changed their lives forever.

Smith plans to retire from commercial fishing and spend more time with his greatest passion, salmon angling. "I'm definitely retired now. It's a done deal," Smith said.

Smith bought $10 worth of Lotto 6-49 tickets, and told his son-in-law that if he wanted to split any winnings, he had to pay up as well. Twenty dollars later, plus one buck on Encore, and they were millionaires.

"It's an unbelievable feeling. It's just beyond. I'm still trying to piece everything together. Everything is good," Smith said.

Deon plans to continue his job as a non-destructive testing technician at Ontario Power Generation, at least for the time being.

Both men plan to share with family, including Earle's son Lee, who is a 25-year-old welding inspector in Newfoundland.

"I think he's already bought a snowmobile," Smith joked.

Smith said it's too early to say what they will do with the money, but have talked about taking a trip.

"All this ever was was a dream. But dreams do come true," Smith remarked.

Smith discovered they had the winning numbers Sunday morning. Goobie had worked the night shift and was still in bed.

Smith quickly roused him from his slumber.

"We saw the numbers, yet we still couldn't really believe it."

Smith couldn't say when they will return to Newfoundland.

"We're just soaking it all up right now," he said.

Smith is originally from Gooseberry Cove, but relocated to Clarenville six years ago.