Three Calgary friends claim $50M lottery prize after 17 years playing together

Home » Three Calgary friends claim $50M lottery prize after 17 years playing together

‘I’m happy that the three of us get to share this… I don’t know what I would have done with $50 million alone’

Three friends who have playing the lottery together for 17 years are now multi-millionaires, thanks to a Canada Lotto 6/49 jackpot win.

After a weekend away, Carmen Austria woke up early on Dec. 11, made coffee and checked her lottery tickets — a regular part of her morning routine, having played the lottery jointly with friends and former co-workers Gary Perkins and Catherine Wall for the past 17 years.

She hadn’t heard that a Calgarian had won a yet-unclaimed Lotto 6/49 prize worth $50 million. But when she scanned the ticket in her Lotto Spot app, she got the message that everyone who buys a lottery ticket hopes for: “This appears to be a winner of $50 million.”

She dragged her husband out of the shower and said, “Tell me I’m not reading this wrong.”

“I won’t tell you what he said, but he swore,” she told media at a Wednesday news conference. “And he said, ‘I’m retiring!’ “

It was 6 a.m. when Austria checked the ticket, and her frantic phone calls to her lottery squad were met with quite different receptions.

“When you get those texts at 6:20 in the morning, you’re thinking, ‘Oh, no, what’s happened? Something bad has happened,’ ” said Wall.

Perkins, on the other hand, was sound asleep when he got the call.

“Who would wake me up at 6:30 a.m.? So I didn’t answer it,” he said. “And then I picked my phone up and I started seeing these texts and this strange photograph of a Lotto Spot winners screen that says it appears you won $50 million. And I just didn’t compute.”

The trio of multimillionaires — who split the prize for a cool $16.6 million each — have been friends for two decades. They started buying tickets together in 2007 and said the best part about it is winning together.

“I’m happy that the three of us get to share this. It’s a lot of money anyway, I mean, I don’t know what I would have done with $50 million alone,” said Austria.

“Don’t get me wrong. I’d like $50 million. But, emotionally, (this is) more enriching,” Perkins added.

Having had a couple of months to digest the news, the three still have a range of emotions about their new-found wealth. Austria went to visit family in Chile, Wall and her spouse retired as soon as possible, and Perkins was first in line at the Ford dealership as soon as the funds appeared in his bank account.

“I’ve been preparing for this for a long time,” said Perkins.

They’re thinking about going on a group vacation to celebrate, but the trio still plans to keep playing the lottery. They hope this gives some reassurance to other work or friend-based lottery pools that, yes, it is possible.

“If you have a ticket, you have a chance,” said Perkins. “And you can dream about the things you might do. You don’t have to believe it’ll ever happen. But if you don’t play, you don’t have the dream.”

Albertans have had some stellar lottery luck of late; AGLC board chair Len Rhodes says Albertans have claimed more than $330 million in major lottery wins since November 2022.

He said the Alberta winner of last month’s $70 million Lotto Max draw has also come forward and news should be shared sometime this week.

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

Thanks to Evan B. for the tip.

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