PINE FALLS, Man. — By the time the limousine swooped into the reserve to whisk Kirby and Marie Fontaine off to Winnipeg Saturday night, everyone in the area already knew the extraordinary news.
The couple are the winners of the $50 million Lotto Max prize, one of the biggest jackpots in Canadian lottery history.
It’s believed to be the biggest lottery win ever in Manitoba.
“In a small town like this, you don’t hear stuff like that very often,” said Michel Bruneau, a cashier at the convenience store in the Broadlands strip mall just outside the Sagkeeng First Nation.
Marie Fontaine bought the winning ticket from the convenience store on Friday, and called Bruneau for the winning numbers shortly after the draw.
“By the time I told her the last number, she knew it,” said Bruneau. “She was just like, ‘Oh, my God’!”
With her family in tow, Fontaine came down to the store to check the ticket electronically, and then cashier Dale Swampy validated it again on his computer behind the counter.
“Her face just lit up,” said Swampy.
The win was the talk of the town Sunday. Nearly everyone either knew the Fontaines, played baseball with them or were relatives.
People in Pine Falls and Sagkeeng said the win couldn’t happen to a nicer family, or one that deserved a little good news.
The couple live on the reserve in a tidy yellow mobile home surrounded by friendly cats and dogs and lawn ornaments stuffed with silk flowers.
Neighbours and friends say Marie works at the personal care home nearby but Kirby, who used to work security at the South Beach Casino, suffered some health problems over the summer and had been off work. The couple have two children, a boy and teenaged girl.
“I think it’s just awesome,” said Terri Papineau, who played baseball in the same league as the Fontaines. “I’m just so amazed for them.”