N.L. couple wins $30M lottery jackpot, largest ever in province
Gordon and Betty Collins of Placentia, N.L., kiss as they display their $30-million LOTTO MAX top prize cheque from the Jan. 25, 2013 draw in St. John's, N.L. on Thursday, Feb.7, 2013. (Graham Kennedy/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- Gordon Collins didn't bust out in a happy dance in Placentia, N.L., when he realized he'd won the biggest lottery jackpot in provincial history.
The 69-year-old pharmacist calmly tucked the $30-million Lotto Max ticket into his pocket and went on filling prescriptions at the local drug store where he worked part-time.
"I had obligations," he explained Thursday as the massive cheque was presented in St. John's. "And after 40 years, old habits die hard."
Those habits and just about everything else are about to change for Collins and his wife, Betty, 65.
She had urged him to check the numbers on the $5 Instapik ticket he bought at the Lawtons Drugs store during one of his shifts, the day of the Jan. 25 draw. People around Atlantic Canada were buzzing as the top prize went unclaimed for six days before Collins discovered his big win on Jan. 31.
His wife can finally buy the new Buick she has wanted, they're planning a trip to visit family and friends in Ontario and he talks of heading to Florida or Arizona to catch some Major League Baseball spring training games.
They can do whatever they want. It's a feeling that's still sinking in, Collins said.
"Everyone has that conversation: 'If I won the lottery, I'd do this and I'd do that.' We are really faced with that now.
"My biggest concern is that we can no longer go back to our old lifestyle, which was a very rich, fulfilling, lovely lifestyle. So I mean, there's got to be a new normal and what that's going to be, I don't know.
"Hopefully I'm going to make a lot of people happy."
His wife, an avid curler and bridge player, said she has mixed emotions about the sudden reality of so much wealth.
"It's just that sometimes you get very nervous. What's going to happen? And then you start crying," she said with a wary smile. "It's not sad, it's a happy cry, really, but (it's) overwhelming."
Her husband laughed as he described calling their two grown sons, one in Newfoundland and one in the Toronto area, with the incredible news.
"I don't know what the new normal is going to be," he said. "We'll just have to deal with it the best we can.
"One day at a time."
Placentia Mayor Bob Hogan, who has known the family for years, said the lottery win is the talk of the town. He said Gordon Collins, a local pharmacist since 1974, is well liked and respected along with his wife as the kind of people who are always willing to help out with a good cause.
"I'm overwhelmed by it and I'm very excited for Gordon and Betty. If there was ever a couple that deserved it, you know, they do. They're a fine family. They've reared good kids, they did their bit."
The town will be looking for another pharmacist. Gordon Collins said he's now officially retired.