Chua matched the numbers 11, 21, 23, 25, 28, 41 and 43, but he was oblivious to the fact that he might be the winner when his wife woke him the next morning to tell him that someone from the town had won the record jackpot.
“I was jealous of whoever won, not knowing it was me,” he joked to the Western Canada Lottery when he came forward with his family to claim the prize.
John even checked his online account the next morning, but only glanced at the message which said he was a winner and assumed it was ‘a Free Play or something’. It was only later when he realised the scale of his good fortune, and then he had to convince his family.
John’s mother, Angie, said: “He always plays jokes - he's a joker, so I didn't believe it. I believe now that it's real. Now we're not just dreaming anymore."
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The money will be split between the family - John, his wife Jhoana, mother Angie and uncle Ben Lagman. However, they have yet to decide exactly what to do with it and at the moment are just determined not to let it go to waste.
“I'm not really sure right now,” he said of his plans going forward. “That's why probably I will take my time before spending all that money on whatever. I just want to be wise, and I have kids now, so now I'm thinking for the future.”
John has bought tickets regularly on behalf of the family for years, but he used to always get them from a local retailer. It was only late last year that he switched to playing online due to public health guidance.
Players were reminded that it was much safer to buy tickets online during the pandemic rather than go out to a store, while retail sales in Manitoba were also restricted. It’s also more convenient to choose numbers from home, while you will always be emailed if you win a prize so you don’t have to remember to check your numbers.
The email that John received could barely have given him more monumental news, and he has no plans to stop playing now. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said.