TORONTO — A couple from Thunder Bay, Ont., are planning their honeymoon after more than two decades of marriage now that they’ve won a $50-million jackpot.
“We’ve been married, it’s going to be 23 years on the 22nd of this month, and we’ve never been on a honeymoon,” Louis Chikoski, 56, said as he and his wife Jo-Anne picked up their Lotto Max prize Monday.
“And by golly, we’re going on one.”
The couple doesn’t have any other big plans for their newfound fortune just yet, saying they plan to “keep their feet on the ground” and take their time thinking about what to do.
“We want to catch our breath and talk to financial advisers and family about what to do with this life-changing amount of money,” Louis said.
While a new car might be in the works, the pair have no plans to move since they love where they currently live and “promised the neighbours” they’d stay put.
But that level-headed approach doesn’t mean they won’t spoil their extended family, said Jo-Anne, 54.
She’d like to see Canada and eventually travel overseas, and she wants her nieces and nephews to share in that experience.
“We don’t have any children and that’s the closest thing to us as having our own,” she said through tears.
“We love you . . . and we’ll be taking you places, kiddos.”
The longtime lottery players said they normally play their favourite numbers, but the winning ticket for the March 23 draw was a quick pick.
Louis said he looked up the numbers online, then called the OLG help line to make sure he was reading his ticket correctly. Even then, he still couldn’t believe he’d won.
“All I felt was blood rushing,” he said.
“He went white and his lips went blue and I got so scared,” his wife added. “It took my breath away, I just kept staring at it and staring at it, closer and closer.”
While Jo-Anne is already retired, Louis, who has been working at local paper mills for 40 years, was planning to retire this fall.
Now, he says, “it’s going to be a little earlier.”
The couple is the sixth in Ontario to win the $50-million jackpot since Dec. 31, 2010.
JoAnn and Gaetan Champagne of Hawkesbury, Ont., picked up their big prize in February, after winning a Dec. 30 draw.