Meet the retired Hearst, Ont. couple that won $65 million in the lottery
SUDBURY -- Canada's newest millionaires are a sweet, retired working-class couple from the town of Hearst in northern Ontario.
James Wickman and his wife Eerikka drove almost 10 hours to Toronto in a rented coach bus with around two dozen family members to pick up their $65 million Lotto Max jackpot Wednesday afternoon.
The 67-year-old retired electrical contractor was in his car when he heard the winning ticket to the Sept. 8 Lotto Max draw was sold in the Timiskaming/Cochrane District. He rushed home to check his ticket on the OLG app.
"I showed my wife the message on the app, but she couldn’t believe it and thought it was an error," said James. "So, I went to the store to have the ticket checked through the lottery terminal and that’s when all the bells and whistles went off!"
Eerikka, a retired teacher's aid, said she didn't believe him because her husband is always joking around.
"I still don't believe it," she said, in front of cameras in Toronto at the cheque presentation.
James' daughter, one of four adult children, was with him at the store when they confirmed the win and got on the phone right away to share the news with her siblings.
A regular lottery player, James buys one or two tickets a week, but doesn't rely on special numbers.
"I always ask the retailer for quick pick numbers and that's what won me the jackpot," said James.
The last significant prize he won was almost 50 years ago.
"The last time I won a big prize was in 1972 – $5,000 in a gas station contest," said James. "Back then $5,000 was big money, but nothing compared to hitting a $65 million jackpot. Wow!"
When the couple was asked if they plan to go somewhere warm in the winter, Eerikka shook her head 'no' right away.
"You can always dress warm for the winter, but there is only so much you can take off in the summer," said James. "We love the snow."
They said they plan on staying in their community for as long as they can and have no plans to move.
"Toronto's too big," said Eerikka.
The grandparents of 11, with one new baby on the way, plan to share the winnings with their family.
"Each to have their own homes, no debt, education funds for the kids, that would be nice. Whether they want to work or not is their choice," said Errikka. "We have a lot to think about and we want to be fair."
For herself, Eerikka said she would like to have a little hobby farm and a cow.
James bought his winning ticket at the Canadian Tire Gas Bar on Front Street in Hearst.
Hearst, Ont. is located on the Mattawishkwia River on Highway 11 over 250 km northwest of Timmins.