A Calgary man who vowed to donate every penny of a recent multi-million dollar lottery win took the first step Tuesday, cutting a large cheque to a Calgary cancer centre.

Tom Crist first found out that he won the $40 million Lotto Max jackpot in May, but did not claim it until Monday.

On Tuesday, Crist donated $1.2 million to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary. Crist recently became a widower after losing his wife to cancer.

Those who know Crist say it’s simply in his nature to give.

“I was not surprised when I found out what he was going to do with the funds. He's probably the most generous man I've known throughout my whole career,” Darren Buium, a former co-worker of Crist’s, told CTV Calgary’s Chris Epp.

“He's volunteered for years and years and will continue to volunteer for years and years. Good on him, he's a great guy.”

Lottery officials say they survey winners every year and charities often reap the rewards of big wins.

“We hear from winners all the time that part of what makes them happy about winning is the opportunity to share it with other people,” said Andrea Maranz, a spokesperson with the Western Canada Lottery Corporation.

Crist’s promise to give away all his winnings isn’t without precedent though. An elderly Nova Scotia couple won more than $11 million three years ago and has given away most of it.

With a report from CTV Calgary’s Chris Epp