Friday the 13th proves lucky for $21.8M lottery winner

Left to right: Danielle Fowler, 33, Chris Fowler, 55, and Jason Fowler, 22, celebrate Chris’...

Left to right: Danielle Fowler, 33, Chris Fowler, 55, and Jason Fowler, 22, celebrate Chris’ $21,771,980 Lotto Max win in St. Albert on July 19, 2012. (TOM BRAID/QMI Agency)

Angelique Rodrigues, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:04 AM ET

EDMONTON - Friday the 13th proved more than lucky for one Fort McMurray, Alta., man who won $21.8 million on the ill-famed day's Lotto Max draw.

Chris Fowler, 55, has been buying lottery tickets religiously for as long as he can remember.

The recently divorced dad of two -- who picked up the $21,771,980 ticket at his local Mac's store -- said he always knew he would win, he just never knew when.

"At first when I looked at it, there were so many digits, I didn't know what it was," he said, adding he used a self-checker to scan his ticket two days later. "Usually I check my tickets and buy more because they don't work out, but..."

Fowler drove straight to his son Jason's house and stood white as a ghost trying to explain to him what had just happened.

"He thought something terrible had happened," he said, adding his 33-year-old pregnant daughter, Danielle, had to hang up the phone when he called with the news. "We couldn't believe it."

Fowler shared the $45.5 million July 13 jackpot with another winner in Regina, Sask., who also hit all seven numbers (3, 13, 14, 23, 33, 36 and 45).

The former heavy-duty equipment operator said he's got a couple of plans already laid out.

Step 1, he says, is to officially retire.

Then it's time to see the world.

"I want to travel, looks like first is Vegas," he said, noting he'll also fly home to Newfoundland to hand out some cash to loved ones.

"I want to take care of my family and my children's debt."

Though he's trying to keep a level head about his sudden multimillionaire status, he joked his car -- which he's set to replace with a long-coveted Corvette -- might not be the only item he trades in for a newer model.

"My next wife will be 21," he quipped lightly after accepting his cheque at the Western Canada Lottery Office on Thursday.

Fowler's win is the ninth-biggest lotto prize ever to be awarded in Alberta history.

The single-largest jackpot went to a lucky ticket holder in Camrose -- a whopping $54,294,712.

angelique.rodrigues@sunmedia.ca

@SunAngeliqueR