It has been a struggle for Tracey McIvor to keep quiet about winning $1 million — but he did it until the Alberta government released the news publicly Thursday.
McIvor, who lives in Langdon, 30 kilometres east of Calgary, learned a few days ago that his name was drawn for the first million-dollar cash prize of Alberta's COVID-19 vaccine lottery.
But officials wanted him to keep it confidential until they announced it on July 1.
"The hardest part has actually been trying to just carry on [as normal]," he said.
"It didn't even seem a bit real. Even when it was announced, I kind of went like, 'Get out of town. Are you serious?'"
A teacher and principal, McIvor had planned to retire a year ago. But with the pandemic, he stayed on this school year to coordinate teacher staffing for the Calgary Board of Education.
July 1 is the first official day of his retirement.
The Open for Summer lottery is designed to encourage more Albertans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Thursday's draw was open to Alberta residents 18 and older with at least one dose of vaccine.
Other million-dollar winners will be announced Aug. 31 and Sept. 30.
The August and September draws will be open to Albertans 18 and older who are fully vaccinated with two doses.
Other prizes, including Calgary Stampede admission, all-inclusive vacations, airline and rail trips and tickets to NHL and CFL games, will be awarded to hundreds of other entrants.
More than 1.7 million Albertans have entered the lottery, the government said in a news release Thursday.
As of June 29, 72.8 per cent of eligible Albertans have received one dose of the vaccine; 42.4 per cent have received two doses, provincial data shows.
Though $1 million "isn't a bad thing," McIvor didn't get vaccinated for the chance at winning the lottery.
He felt it was the right thing to do and science suggests it's the way out of the pandemic, he said.
He encourages others to get their shot, too.
People can find available vaccine appointments online or by calling 811.
McIvor said he and his wife Cindy will consult their financial adviser about how to best use the money, but they already have some plans.
Some of the money will be given back to the community, and some will be spent on themselves — like travelling to Boston to catch a baseball game at Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, he said.
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