LOWER TRURO, N.S. — Allen and Violet Large can’t quite understand all the fuss over their decision to give away the lion’s share of their whopping $11.2-million lottery win.
The elderly Nova Scotia couple says they managed to get by in their 147-year-old house with their prized 1987 Dodge Diplomat for many decades before striking it rich in a Lotto 649 draw last July.
But since it was revealed late Wednesday that they had handed out all of the winnings — minus about two per cent tucked away for themselves — media outlets had been calling non-stop before they took the phone off the hook.
“We’re overwhelmed with everything,” Violet said in the couple’s cosy living room in Lower Truro, N.S.
“We didn’t do this to get recognition. We did this because we wanted to. … We’re just country hicks.”
The phone started ringing early Thursday, with reporters asking over and over again what would possess the 75-year-old retired welder and his wife to relinquish such a sizable jackpot. Television camera crews filed into their tiny white house atop a hill surrounded by a riverbed and farm fields at the end of an unassuming dirt road.
Violet, who finished chemotherapy treatment for ovarian cancer just a week ago, and her husband of 36 years patiently explain why it is they doled out their millions to over 70 churches, cemeteries, hospitals, fire departments and other charities.
All of their 15 family members were the first get equal portions of the winnings.
“Everybody can’t understand why — everybody says why didn’t you keep it? Why did you give it away? But we didn’t need this big amount,” Allen Large says, another lottery ticket sitting on his dining room table.
“We were sitting quite well before we ever won this money. We weren’t millionaires, but we were well to do.”
Violet, who lost her hair shortly after collecting their cheque in July in Moncton, N.B., added simply that they need nothing more than each other.
“We never had that money, we never went without anything but we wasn’t born with silver spoons in our mouths, so we knew we had to work for what we got,” she said.
“We have each other — that’s the main thing. We don’t live in a modern house or have new cars, no fandangle things. You’re born with nothing, you’re going to die the same way.”
The couple said they aren’t “travellers” or “bar-hoppers,” and don’t even own a microwave.
Word of the couple’s astounding generosity has drawn interest abroad.
A producer with ITV television in London called The Canadian Press on Thursday looking to connect with the Larges, and the story drew a flood of comments from readers on the Daily Mail’s website in Britain.
“Wow, what wonderful people!” wrote a poster on the tabloid’s site. “A real heartwarming story for sure. If only there were more people like this in the world …”
“These sort of people make the world a better place, God bless them!” added another.
The couple said they got seven calls from people seeking money, but told them it had already been handed out.
Large said he and Violet decided a week before they picked up their winnings to give most of it away.
Allen said he was stunned when his wife discovered they had the matching numbers. But when she asked what he should do with it, he merely said, “Do what you want.”
He said they worked for 30 years in Ontario and put away money every year before retiring and returning home to Nova Scotia.
“We had enough to keep us going in our retirement years,” he said. “We were quite happy with what we had and the way we were going.”