Lottery winners spend big before getting $50M prize

A lucky Ottawa-area couple is so eager to claim a $50-million lottery win at the end of the month after passing a provincial review that they are spending much of their life savings.

Jo Ann Champagne, 49, and her husband Gaétan, 51, of Hawkesbury, Ont., just east of Ottawa, have to wait until Feb. 29 to officially claim their winnings in Toronto following an Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation investigation.

The review was required because the couple used to own a convenience store. They leaped the first two hurdles Jan. 31 and have to wait the mandatory 30 days before they get their $50 million.

But the two are burning holes in their pockets as they wait for the money. They have already put $25,000 into renovating their son's diner, Resto Hawkesbury.

The new look features checkered floors, leather seats and a jukebox.

"It's really exciting, I can't tell you how, inside, sometimes you want to yell, scream," Gaétan said.

The restaurant is just the start of their purchases, though.

The Champagnes have also purchased an $80,000 Lincoln Continental and made a down payment on a $900,000, 13-bedroom dream home — a mansion with a waterfront view near Hawkesbury.

The culprit behind this eager spending spree is Gaétan, his wife accused.

"That's my husband. That's OK, we know it's coming," she said with a laugh.

The two have already fielded numerous requests for a cut of their winnings. They have received letters from strangers and one man even flew from Japan seeking a $2-million investment on a low-flush toilet invention.

The Champagnes said if they share any money, it would be with their friends and others in Hawkesbury.

They also admit they can't stop buying lottery tickets. After 30 years, they said it was a habit they can't kick.

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