Marie McCarthy from New Waterford, N.S., is the long-anticipated winner of a $30-million Lotto Max jackpot thanks to a lucky ticket given to her as a birthday gift by her grandson, Jeff.
Cape Breton residents have been abuzz since it was announced that the winning ticket was sold in New Waterford on Jan. 31, McCarthy's birthday.
McCarthy was awarded the largest lottery prize ever in Nova Scotia and in the Maritimes.
"It doesn't seem real," McCarthy said. "I never really thought about a bucket list or anything before because I never figured I'd have the money to do anything on it."
McCarthy said she was in total disbelief when they checked the numbers and reality only started to sink in once she called Atlantic Lottery to validate the ticket.
"Jeff checked the ticket and he hollered down, 'You got all the numbers,' and I said, 'Yeah, right,'" McCarthy said.
After the Thursday morning reveal, she told CBC in an interview that it still doesn't feel real.
McCarthy has known about the win for some time, but had to keep it a secret. She said she has already been sharing the prize money by sending cheques to her loved ones who are scattered across Canada. She plans to pay off the mortgages of all her nieces and nephews and has already paid off two. She said they can't believe it.
"It feels good, they won't have to worry like I did when I was trying to pay for my house," she said.
McCarthy said she will treat herself to a new-to-her vintage Cadillac.
One of fourteen children, McCarthy said her family didn't have much when she was growing up.
"You didn't get money for nothing, if you wanted money for something, you had to work for it," she said.
Now, McCarthy said she is ready to celebrate.
Lotto Max draws take place every Tuesday and Friday. Jackpots start at $10 million and grow up to $70 million or until won. The largest prize ever won in Atlantic Canada was $60 million in Newfoundland and Labrador in February 2018.
While not a regular player, McCarthy said she often purchases lottery tickets as gifts for special occasions and that she will certainly continue to do so after her big birthday win. The winning Lotto Max ticket was purchased at Needs Convenience on Emerald Street in New Waterford. The retailer will receive a one per cent seller's prize.
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