A peal of joyous laughter rang out, seconds before the 28 smiling winners, almost all members of the same extended family from the Montérégie region, filed into a news conference at a downtown Montreal hotel to claim the largest jackpot ever awarded by Loto-Quebec: $ 60-million.
On New Year’s Day, on their way to a family brunch, Annie Roy, a former Loto-Quebec employee, and her husband, Gilles Leprohon, currently an independent contractor for Loto-Quebec, stopped at a gas station depanneur in L’Ange-Gardien to purchase lottery tickets using the group formula.
The couple said it was a tradition to buy group formula lottery tickets before family gatherings, and they had no trouble selling their 20 shares, at $ 5 each. Annie’s brother, mother and father, three of her uncles and aunts, as well as adult children who were present at the lunch all got in on the group ticket. Two close family friends bought in, as they usually do, and one person bought a ticket for their child, who was not at the lunch.
“I didn’t get to the phone on time. And then my husband’s phone rang and he saw it was my mother calling. It was 6 a.m. so we feared bad news. But she said, ‘Have you checked your ticket?’. I said ‘Of course not! It’s 6 a.m.'” But then we checked on the Loto-Quebec app, and we saw that we’d won!”
Leprohon, 58, said he plans to retire. He and his wife plan to travel, although they have not had time to decide where. He said other people in the extended family plan to buy new vehicles, give some of the money to their children or just improve their quality of life in retirement.
Loto-Quebec spokesperson Patrice Lavoie said Loto-Quebec employees, retailers and their employees all have the right to buy lottery tickets and have the same chance to win as anyone else. But he said there is a special verification process of any winners of $ 10,000 or more who have ties to Loto-Quebec. The process to verify this group took three days, he said.
Since some of the winners split their tickets with a spouse or another person, the prize will be divided 20 ways, but some of those $ 3-million shares will be split between two people. The winners are aged 21 to 71, and all are members of the Roy and Boivin families, except for the two close family friends. All the winners but one live in the Montérégie, except for one person who lives in Central Quebec.