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Ont. couple wins new house, car, cash in CHEO lottery

Paula McCooey, Ottawa Citizen

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

OTTAWA – When Val Murray moved to Kingston three months ago, he didn’t expect his new house would be in Ottawa.

But a quick phone call from the CHEO Foundation on Wednesday confirmed that he and girlfriend Sara Porter are the 2016 Dream of a Lifetime grand prize winners.

Their $ 1.7 million prize includes $ 100,000 cash, a Chevy Camaro, a year’s worth of groceries from Farm Boy and house cleaning, and a 5,035-square-square-foot Minto home in Manotick fully furnished by La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries.

Minto Dream Home in Manotick, Ont. (Ottawa Citizen Photo)

“Initially, to be honest, I thought it might have been a prank because I have prankster buddies,” said Murray, 37. “And I’m still a little hesitant because I’m one of these guys where you don’t believe anything until you have it in your hand.”

Murray is a car technician from Ottawa who took a job at Kingston Toyota to be with Porter and her four kids. He says he bought the tickets because his mother, who used to be a nurse, always buys them. The most he’s won in the past is a $ 50 gift certificate.

“It’s just one of those things that I thought was important,” said Murray, who had yet to see the palatial home at 800 Percival Cres. in Manotick.

So will six of them be taking the journey back to Ottawa? He laughs.

“That’s going to be a good long discussion, I’m sure,” said Murray. “Because we’re obviously not going to be moving the kids. It’s going to be interesting trying to figure out how that is all going to work out.”

While Murray was absorbing news of his big win, 19-year-old University of Ottawa nursing student Celeste Blanchard was in shock when the Citizen told her she, along with her mother, Lyne, and boyfriend won the $ 161,000 second prize. They bought three tickets together; each chose a ticket, and her mother’s ticket won.

“Oh my god are you joking right now?” she said screaming into the phone. “Oh my God, my mother won. She won! Oh my God this is insane.”

Gail Lynch and her friend Doug Heath won the 50/50 draw and will split just over $ 540,000 in cash.

Lynch, an Ottawa realtor, says she’s been “bouncing off the walls” since learning of her windfall.

Dan Champagne, vice president of development and corporate relations at the CHEO Foundation, drew the winning tickets live on CTV Wednesday News at Noon. As Lynch watched the draw live, she thought there was no way her ticket would be chosen out of the 67,500 in the drum.

“I thought, what are the odds when I saw all those tickets there,” she said. “Then (Champagne) pulls it out, walks over to the fellow, punches in the numbers and says Gail Lynch and Doug Heath. It just takes your breath away … I was just left speechless and I’m not normally left speechless. I certainly was on this one.”

Champagne was delighted by this year’s sellout success and the fact the lottery raised more than $ 3 million for CHEO.

“The money will go to a variety of areas in the hospital, including for research, new equipment and care,” he said. “It’s a big, big day for us.”

A list of all final winning numbers will appear in the Citizen and Le Droit on Friday. The numbers will also be posted at dreamofalifetime.ca as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

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