|A group of 18 Suncor maintenance crew members celebrate winning a $20 million Lotto Max jackpot on September 6, 2012. (DAVID BLOOM/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - When Paul Furlong scanned Lotto Max tickets from his workplace pool at a convenience store on Saturday morning, he knew he and his tight-knit group of co-workers at Suncor had something.
“I saw a two followed by a bunch of zeroes and knew we won,” said Furlong, who initially believed the amount to be $200,000.
“But then I went to the cashier and that’s when things got crazy,” he said.
People in the store started shaking his hand as Furlong discovered that he and 17 of his co-workers -- who do maintenance work at Suncor’s Edmonton Refinery -- had won the $20-million jackpot.
Speaking to media at the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) headquarters on Thursday afternoon, the large group of steamfitters and boilermakers grinned from ear to ear as they took home more than $1.1 million each.
“I did the happy dance,” Furlong said, “I really couldn’t believe my eyes!”
News of their big win spread quickly between the co-workers, said Furlong, and by Monday morning it was the talk of the workplace.
“The boss came up to the shop where we were and he said that ‘You guys got your coveralls on, you got your work boots on and I appreciate the work you do but due to safety concerns maybe you should take the week off,’” Furlong laughed. “Without pay!”
Seven of the winners promptly retired to enjoy their winnings, as others paid off their mortgages, eyed the keys to some new sports cars and made plans to travel the world.
“I retired right away. Done,” laughed Bernie Douglas, who said he’s already planning to hop a flight to Hawaii in the coming months.
“It’s really satisfying,” Douglas said of winning the lotto alongside his longtime friends and co-workers. “We’re a pretty tight group of guys that work at the exchange.”
“It brings us together,” agreed fellow millionaire Kelly Walker. “These 18 guys are going to be close from now on I’m sure.”
Walker said he is also busy planning a vacation with his family, but he’ll be heading back to work on Monday. He said his family is very excited by the windfall and are still taking in all the possibilities $1.1 million brings.
“They’re still in shock,” Walker said. “It was obviously a big win for us in Alberta.... Being out of debt and now the mortgage is going to be paid off so that’s a huge thing.”
The winning ticket was purchased at the Yellowhead Petro Canada for the Aug. 31 Lotto Max $20-million jackpot. The winning numbers were: 5, 12, 13, 28, 33, 37, 43 and bonus 44. The extra numbers were 4556353.
The Edmonton winners are Paul Furlong, John Morash, Brian Penner, David Musica, Fred Hradoway, Bernie Douglas, Robert Roy, Jean Gauthier, Kelly Walker, Larry Ziegler and Gary Garside.
Also getting a share of the money are Wayne Dupas of Leduc, Vello Talviste and Pat Bowen of Sherwood Park, Dallas Lennon of Elk Point, Sherman Rowsell of Beaumont, Carlos Miranda of Morinville and Rob Delaurier of St. Albert.
“I haven’t seen eighteen happier faces in a long time,” said Bill Robinson, CEO of the AGLC before he handed the group a giant novelty cheque. “Congratulations gentlemen.”