Toronto lotto winner Maria Carreiro thrilled with $40K win — then discovers she’s won $40M

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News
An animated Maria Carreiro told reporters in Toronto Monday about the excitement of believing she had won $40,000 and then realizing she actually won $40 million in a Lotto Max draw.

In what's been called "one of the more exuberant lottery-cheque presentations in recent memory," 51-year-old Toronto grandmother Maria Carreiro opened the news conference celebrating her $40-million jackpot with a happy dance, air kisses and an enthusiastic "Thank you, Lord, thank you, Lord! I love you!"

The former factory worker and stay-at-home mother of three told reporters that she had been overwhelmed at the thought of winning just 1/1000th of that: she originally believed she won just $40,000.

She told her story, complete with enthusiastic hand gestures, at the press conference at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission:

"When I went to the machine I just see 40 because I'd never won this amount of money. I told [the clerk] can you check this for me please? He checks it. He doesn’t even know himself and he’s the store owner. I said 'Never mind, I’ll go home,'" she said of first checking the ticket at a convenience store on Toronto's Eglinton Avenue.

"I went home and I told my daughter, 'Oh, I won $40,000.' She's jumping off the bed too and then she calls her [sister] and says, 'Mommy won $40,000.'"

She continued: "She flew up the stairs. I run up the stairs, then I run down the stairs. She went on the computer and she checked the computer and she goes, 'Mommy, You're $40-million richer.' I’m like, 'No way, no way.' I run down the street [to the store] like a crazy woman and check the lottery ticket and it says $40-million and I go, 'Oh, my God.'"

When Carreiro called her husband Mario to tell him the good news, he didn't believe her. Only after he saw the ticket himself did he join in the celebration — and quit his two jobs.

Carreiro plans to share her millions with her three children and five grandchildren — she plans to buy a house for herself and for her daughter — and vows to take a belated honeymoon with her husband.

"I'm going to Hawaii! My lifelong dream!" she announced, jumping up and down.

She also plans to take her entire family to Portugal, where she and her husband were both born.

First, the entire family celebrated modestly: at the Mandarin All-You-Can-Eat Buffet.

"Every person has told us that it hasn’t gone to a better, deserving family," Carreiro's daughter Manuela said before breaking down in tears. "My dad works so hard and we’ve been struggling so much. Forty million is so much money. It’s a blessing."

"I said to myself, one day I’m going to win. And here I am," Carreiro said at the press conference. "I'm doing this for my babies, for my granddaughters and grandson and my daughters. And for (Mario) especially…so he can quit."