A marine electrician who works at the navy dockyards in Halifax is $1 million richer after winning one of the Maxmillion prizes in Friday’s Lotto Max draw.
Chris Johnson, of Salmon River, said his head is still spinning after a whirlwind couple of days that culminated in a winner announcement ceremony Thursday at the Atlantic Lottery Corporation office in downtown Halifax.
“You can’t even put it into words because you’re feeling so much all at once,” Johnson said moments after accepting the ceremonial giant cheque, still brushing confetti off his shoulders.
“It’s still, like I said, ‘I’m not the guy who wins a million dollars.’ And I told my 13-year-old, I’ve been playing the lottery for 24 years without ever expecting to actually win the big dollars. I buy the ticket to dream about winning the big dollars. But now I’ve won the big dollars and I’ve got to figure out, OK, all those fancy dreams, which ones are realistic and which ones aren’t.”
Johnson, 43, his wife Natasha, and three children aged 15, 13 and 11, moved into their home in Salmon River less than a year ago. Now, they can already pay off the mortgage.
They also plan to set up education funds for the kids and buy a trailer.
Originally from River John, Pictou County, Johson said he will continue to work at the dockyard.
“That’s one of the things I’ve always said to my wife. (If) you win the $55 million, that alters your life because how can I keep working at the dockyard if I’ve got $55 million in the bank? Whereas, a million, my life pretty much stays the same but the pressure’s gone. I’m going to be debt-free at 43. That’s just unreal.”
He can also look forward to a nice retirement when he reaches that time in his life.
Johnson bought the ticket through ALC’s website. He received an email notification on Saturday that he had won a prize but he would have to log into his alc.ca account to see what it was. In the past, when he had won small prizes such as $2 or a free ticket, the email notifications told him what he had won, so he was mystified at this one. He was on the way home from having dinner with his parents and tried to sign in using his cellphone but they passed into an area without cell coverage and he couldn’t connect. He tried again about 40 minutes later and he was able to sign in and see his prize.
He couldn’t believe it. The win was so unexpected, he thought it was a prank or something.
“I double-checked my numbers that I had with the winning numbers and they matched, but I still didn’t believe it. It still had to be a hoax, because at that point I believed I wasn’t the guy who wins a million dollars.”
He finally connected with an ALC call centre employee who confirmed he was a new millionaire on Sunday.
He went to the lottery corporation’s Moncton office early Monday morning to claim his prize.
Johnson’s going to continue buying lottery tickets and already has his for this Friday’s draw.
“It can happen to anyone. I truly never expected to win. And I always told people you can’t win unless you play. ... I already bought QEII tickets, too.”