ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The Atlantic Lottery Corp. normally presents winners with their ceremonial cheques at the company’s offices.
But with dozens of Newfoundlanders made millionaires by a shared $60-million Lotto Max jackpot, the corporation has had to find a larger space to accommodate the group and family members.
Corporation spokeswoman Molly Cormier said Tuesday they had to arrange a space big enough for about 350 people who are expected to attend a ceremony in St. John’s on Wednesday when officials hand out the cheque.
“Sometimes we just do it at the office if it’s one or two people,” she said. “But we had to look for a larger venue.”
Cormier wouldn’t reveal how many people are part of the group or what they do, saying that will all be announced at the cheque ceremony at the St. John’s Convention Centre.
However, Avondale Mayor Owen Mahoney said in an interview that many of the winners are from his small town and neighbouring communities tucked on an eastern Newfoundland bay, though he didn’t want to identify them.
Mahoney says many are iron workers at the Come By Chance oil refinery, adding that “it couldn’t happen to better bunch of hard-working people.”
“It’s a good news story and all these people who won, well you’d tap them on the back,” he said.
Mahoney said word spread quickly through the community of about 650 people Saturday morning, with some of the winners in a “state of shock” over the win — the biggest jackpot yet in Atlantic Canada and one of the top five ever in Canada.
He said he heard a report about a historic win in Newfoundland before he knew the identities of the winners, raising his hopes that he could have struck it rich.
“First I was a little bit disappointed because I’m in a pool and when I heard that it was a pool of people from Newfoundland I said, ‘Hopefully, that’s me!’ But it couldn’t happen to better people,” he joked.
He says it could bring a much-needed infusion of cash to the East Coast town that often sees its iron workers, boiler makers and construction workers head to Western Canada for work.
“We’re on the map right now!” he said.
Social media is abuzz with reports the jackpot will be shared by about 30 construction workers who live in small towns that have felt the brunt of recent economic swings. Newfoundland and Labrador was hit particularly hard when the oil price crash starting in 2014 drained crucial revenues from the provincial treasury.
Several major construction projects started winding down around the same time, including components of the Hebron offshore oil platform built at the Bull Arm fabrication site.
If the buzz is right, each participant could get about $1.8 million.