When Vera Page realized she had won the Lotto Max $60 million grand prize, she had a difficult time convincing herself she hit the jackpot.
But it was even tougher for the 83-year-old mother, grandmother and great-grandmother from Vankleek Hill, Ont. to convince herfamily.
“It was close to 9 pm when I called my son, Trevor, but he didn’t answer his phone,” Page told OLG. “Then I called my daughter-in-law, and she didn’t answer either. I finally got a hold of my other daughter-in-law, but she didn’t believe me and told me to go to sleep,” she laughed.
Page won the $60 million Lotto Max jackpot from the Nov. 1 draw. OLG held a small winner celebration with her in Toronto and interviewed her about her big victory.
A regular lottery player for 40 years, Page almost missed out on buying her ticket when the weekly outing to the grocery store from her retirement home was cancelled.
“When the staff at my retirement home rescheduled our weekly trip, I got on my motorized scooter and went to the store myself,” she said.
She bought her tickets and tucked them under her computer until the draw. Her winning ticket was purchased at Foodland on Highway 34 in Vankleek Hill.
When she won and couldn’t reach her family members, she called some friends into her retirement home, but they were in bed and half-sleep. Page said she was up most of the night thinking about the life-changing win.
The next morning her son returned her call and upon hearing the news, raced to her apartment.
“I told him that we have to go to Foodland where I bought the ticket to validate it and make sure I wasn’t seeing things,” Vera told OLG. my nightgown, threw on a jacket and went to the store half dressed! When I gave my ticket to the clerk, the bells and whistles went off and the clerk yelled that I had won big.
Page is one of 11 children and helped raise her younger siblings. She donated a kidney to her sister and worked as a personal support worker. Her son Trevor says his mother has worked hard all her life and given so much back to her family. He said he’s “over the moon” that she won this money while she can still enjoy it.
“She is so deserving of this good fortune,” he told OLG.
The owner of the store where Page bought the ticket is sharing in her excitement.
“It feels great, but I feel much better for Vera,” said Justin Phelan, the owner of the Vankleek Hill Foodland. “What a great win for her, and it’s fun to be part of the excitement.”
Phelan said he’s not sure how much the store will receive for selling the winning ticket, but he plans to donate the money to the local food bank.
Customers at the Foodland said the win couldn’t have happened to a nicer woman.
“She deserves it,” said Jean McDonald. “Vankleek Hill’s a great town – they always have something going on. I’m looking forward to seeing her and seeing what she does with it. I’m sure she’ll do well.”
“It’s life-changing for her and her entire family,” said Rick Cortez, another Vankleek Hill resident. And it makes the community proud.
Page says she wants to buy a piece of land on the Ottawa River and build a double-family house for herself and her son’s family. She also wants to experience an Alaskan cruise and wants to spend winters in a warmer place.
“The winters in eastern Ontario are cold so I would like to spend them in a warmer climate. But the summers are wonderful, so I want to get a big boat that many people can sleep on and tour the Ottawa River,” she said.
“Most importantly, I will share my winnings with my family. I want to take care of their futures.”
But before she does all that, there’s a purchase that’s a little more urgent.
“I am getting new hearing aids!”
– with files from Dave Charbonneau, CTV News Ottawa