Shocking Canadian Lottery Winners Stories: They Lost it All!

Bianca Grasu

Casino expert

23.5 Shocking Canadian Lottery Winners Stories: They Lost it All!

Ever wish you won the lottery? The next 23.5 stories show how wrong a Canadian jackpot can go! Scroll down to our guide to be sure you don’t end up on the list.

Disclaimer: We do not condone any use of lottery winnings or any winnings derived from iGaming that involves bringing harm to winners or those around them. Please gamble responsibly! To ensure that you are making legal and beneficial use of your winnings, please address the guide at the end of this page.

Wondering how your life would be if you won the lottery?

Advice: beware.

Here are 23 and a half examples of how it can all go wrong for lottery players.

“I, take thee”: Lotto & broken vows

Find out how winning the Canadian lottery can really rock your world with the next five unexpected romantic lottery dramas

Unexpected romantic lottery dramas

1.     In sickness and in secrets

Surely you know the slow but steady burn of a long love story with lovers who take care of one another well into old age. This is not Ibi and Joseph’s case…

Let’s define the meaning of ‘taking care’ in our story, shall we?

When accused of murdering his wife of 30 years, 72-year-old doctor Joseph Roncaioli argued that she was afraid of physicians. He was taking care of her at home.

Joseph killed Ibi, his wife, 17 years after winning C$5 million in the 1991 Lotto 6/49 draw in Ontario, Thornhill. She seemed to be feeling ill when her husband decided to treat her to a lethal cocktail of injected drugs and alcohol.

The case was as all the rage in 2008 when Canadian newspapers followed closely every development in the old gynecologist’s fate.

It was horrid, emotional, and convoluted.

Here’s a taste of the most scandalous headlines about the case at the time:

The most scandalous headlines lotto drama
  • Doctor injected wife deadly drugs: Crown; (CTV News Toronto)
  • Money and Murder; (The Lottery Network)
  • Guilty doctor is termed a suicide risk; (The Star)
  • Don’t jail killer doctor, lawyer argues. (The Star)

It seems that the gynecologist was enraged by a series of lies his wife had told to cover up her actions and the squandering of lottery money.

Among the secret ‘expenses’, Ibi gave C$800,000 to their son and a similar amount of money to a son she had with someone else. Joseph knew about her other child, as he lived with them at the time. However, Ibi and a third man had a third son, who received C$2 million of the total lottery winnings.

According to The Star, Joseph Roncaioli was sentenced for manslaughter to seven years in prison. The sentence was contested based on the frailty of Mr. Roncaioli’s state of mind.

Joseph Roncaioli was sentenced for manslaughter

2.     To have and to steal

Love has mysterious ways, and so does the Canadian lottery.

  • The trial: from 2008 to 2010.

The Moore case was a long and scandalous trial that started in 2008.

Mr. Moore claimed that his wife had stolen the ticket from his bedside table after altering his medication to make sure he was physically and psychologically vulnerable.

He also targeted the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation for not checking properly whether Ms. Arnold was the ticket’s valid owner.

Mrs. Moore and her daughters, Bobbi-Jo and Kelly Anne Sharpe, could not account entirely for their weekly average of C$10,000 expenses. Their lawyer argued that, given the family’s modest provenience, they lacked the education and capacity to keep appropriate track of their finances.

Their carpe-diem style of running through the money brought Mary Patricia Moore and Bobbi-Jo in front of the Superior Court, facing four criminal charges each and fraud payments of over C$5,000.

Among the few disclosed items on their spending list, the court found prepaid funerals worth C$312,000. 

Although a settlement was eventually reached, love did not completely conquer the “lottery curse”: Mary Patricia Moore filed for divorce in August 2008, leaving Gerald before the trial was over.

3.     Till Lotto do us part

A Canadian lotto love-knot tangled once more the destinies of Raymond Sobeski and his two ex-wives with a two-year spicy lawsuit.

Was Mr. Sobeski only guilty of discretion, or is there something more?

Declaring himself a single 40-year-old man, Robert Sobeski coolly collected his C$30 million on April 1st, 2004.

According to official statements, single Sobeski celebrated the win with a sizzling romantic encounter with ex-wife Nynna Ionson.

A discreet lover and multimillionaire, Sobeski did not brag about his win on that night. Ionson only found out about his new financial power the next day, thanks to her habit of reading the newspapers.

He kept his Super 7 Jackpot win a secret for almost a year. According to the official statements given at the time, he argued that “he didn’t want to do anything rash.”

Scandal, lies, and broken hearts

Something rash, in this case, meant informing his ex-wife about the lottery prize during the 2003 divorce proceedings.

According to multiple news sources, Sobeski consulted his divorce attorney about the win, so the chance that the gentleman’s discretion was plain foul play increased.

The world at large still debates whether hiding something is akin to telling a lie. But Robert Sobeski did one better.

Sobeski stated that he divorced Ionson in 2002, long before finding out about the C$30 mil.

Ionson countered that she received the divorce papers in 2003. The affair was officially over on the 8th of February 2004, approximately two months before the win was about to expire.

The heart made matters worse: allegedly, Sobeski still held Ionson’s affection, and the two continued their relationship well after the divorce was finalized. This explains why they were together the night after Sobeski collected his win.

Betrayed, Ionson decided that she too could pursue her legal rights, as the C$30 million lottery fortune was won before their marriage dissolved and should have been disclosed as shared property during the divorce proceedings.

Heartbreaker pays his dues

Heartbreaker pays his dues

What goes around comes around.

In Sobeski’s case, the hidden lottery treasure was to go around for quite a while, not necessarily inside his pockets, as Ionson obtained a support settlement in 2005.

The scandal rocked the boat with Sobeski’s second wife, Sherry, who then rethought her child support deal. Sobeski and Sherry have two children together.

4.     Love of my life, don’t win the lottery

Can money really change someone’s heart? Or does it simply reveal what’s already brewing in there?

When a Canadian lottery winner cashed in her tickets, the very first expense she made was to get surprise gifts for ten of her friends, her boyfriend, and his brother.

A sweet gesture, right?

Let’s have a closer look.

There are two possibilities:

  1. She bought her boyfriend a ski mobile, then left him for his brother;
  2. She decided to surprise him the most by leaving him for his brother.

In either case, rumour has it there was no sign of a possible break-up before the lucky win. It seems a lottery kind of push was all she needed.

Quora gossip doesn’t mention whether the winner checked in with the actual financial needs of her friends. However, most assuredly, all ten of them got snowmobiles worth C$10,000 each.

It is also unknown whether they were all close and enthusiastic about the sports or if she was just immensely eager to create her Ski-Doo team.

What remains certain is that she most definitely felt she was upgrading her life while hearts broke in the wake of her new-found success.

5.     Make love, not money

Make love, not money

One fine day, Maurice Thibeault from Chatham, Ontario, wins C$6 million and leaves his sweetheart, Denise Robertson.

She is not content with a scrappy broken heart. Instead, she demands half of the Lotto 6/49 winnings.

The war begins:

  1. She argued that she and Maurice Thibeault, her committed lover for two years, always bought lottery tickets together. Their intimate promise to each other, according to Robertson, was to split any winnings 50-50. Thibeault seems to have won, claim the prize and, without warning, pack up and leave her;
  2. He claims that there was never a promise to split any winnings;
  3. Thibeault wins the early proceedings and collects half of the jackpot;
  4. After Robertson’s claim, C$3 million of Thibeault’s total pot were held up by the court until a decision is reached;
  5. Thibeault decides to sue the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation for not awarding him the full jackpot in the first place;
  6. Thibeault also accuses the Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario of conspiring with his ex-lover, tortiously interfering in contractual relations, breaching fiduciary and statutory duties, and for negligent investigation.

The fight goes on for over three years, and headlines are reluctant to state a conclusion. Gaining closure can be difficult, especially when you leave your lover for the lottery jackpot and she starts a legal three-year war.

Thriller fortune: friends, foe, or family?

How would your family react if you won the lottery? How many friends would you keep? Are your relationships safer than those of the next eight winners?

6.     Evil ticket: lottery, family, death

A one-way Canadian lottery ticket takes a 77-year-old grandad from Montreal through hell. The final destination is almost nothing.

Let’s track the events:

  • The year is 2009. Lucien Nault buys a Lotto 6/49 ticket and wins C$16.9 million;
  • Nault shares most of his prize with his son Daniel and offers C$5 million to neighbours;
  • Daniel sues four of the neighbours, claiming that one of them manipulated his father into sharing his lottery money. He also names Lucien’s ex-wife’s brother-in-law in his lawsuit;
  • A few months later, Lucien’s wife leaves him;
  • With Lucien Nault’s lottery money, Daniel and his wife build a swanky swimming pool.

This is when the effects of the winning ticket really get crazy!

Daniel finds his wife dead in their new luxuriant pool, a few days after winning and dining to celebrate its completion.

He buries her in the Gaspe region and returns to his home in Montreal. One morning, shortly after his return, the grieving husband takes his dog for a lonely walk. His pet wanders away as they often do, and as is the custom of every careful owner, Daniel crosses the street to get his dog back.

Daniel meets his own end: on the cross-walk, smashed by the hood of a Jeep.

It took one winning ticket for death and scandal to deprive Lucien Nault of his family and fortune.

The 77-year-old man was alone in a seniors’ home when he found out about his son dying.

7.     Lotto blood feud: true miniseries

One father and three children in Quebec win the lottery on the auspicious April Fool’s day, in 1986. What could possibly go wrong?

Back story

The Lavigueurs were a Canadian family of dire circumstances: Jean-Guy (the father), Jean-Marie (uncle or Oncle Sourire), and children Sylvie, Yve, Michel and Louise were the only ones left of the Lavigueur family.

Jean-Guy’s wife (Jean-Marie’s sister) died of heart failure in 1983. They also lost two daughters to the same condition.

Blue-collar Jean-Guy had lost his job in 1985. He was illiterate and thus could not easily find a job. Sylvie, the oldest daughter, and Jean-Marie took care of the family.

So it begins

Jean-Guy gets out of his automobile without paying much attention to the wallet sliding out of his pocket, along with the lottery ticket purchased with the entire family’s efforts, except for Louise.

It’s already late when Jean-Guy realizes his wallet has disappeared, and it feels a little too late to have any chance of retrieving it when a half-drunk William Murphy comes a-knocking on their door. Murphy does not speak French. Yve, unable to understand English, turns away the drunk stranger with a baseball bat.

By this time, Murphy knows about the winning ticket in the wallet he had picked up. Murphy could walk away with the wallet, a lottery fortune, and a semi-clear conscience. Still, he returns the next day with an interpreter, announcing he found the winning ticket.

Everybody ends up in the newspapers

It is the stuff of dreams: a good Samaritan and C$7,650,267, the most remarkable Quebec jackpot ever won until then, bestowed on those who truly needed it.

Unfortunately, the Lavigueur family remained prime newspaper material from the ’80s well into the new millennium.

Echoes of April Fool’s

Echoes of April Fool's

To this day, the real story of the Lavigneurs is more tragic than the satires, the Canadian miniseries, and even Yve’s book.  

8.     There ain’t no friends for the wicked

Here’s a story with an interesting villain.

It’s the roaring ’70’s.

Canada had just opened its lottery gates, and money, good money, retirement money flooded out to the layman. At the time, the Ontario lottery offered jackpots as high as C$100,000, an amount that could set you for life.

The even sweeter deal is that Canada, unlike the US, does not charge taxes on lottery winnings.

That’s probably what prompted Mr. X to cross the border and try out the Canadian Lady Luck. Mr. X, a US citizen from Buffalo, NY, was the happy winner of C$1 million. According to Quora, the minute he won, Mr. X owed the US government around $60,000. Taxes and gambling have quite a different relationship in Canada than in the US. Our guide to Canadian player taxes shows exactly how taxes vary according to the kind of gambler you are, explains how to use your funds efficiently, and lays out the legislative details that every great player needs for everyone to understand.

But why play fair when you can have your cake and eat it too? Mr. X cashed his winnings and decided to leave his old coin shop in the past in Buffalo, set camp in Canada, and enjoy a happy and tax-free retirement.

And he would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for meddling with friends!

The fascinating facet of Mr. X was that he also possessed a sentimental heart despite his evil hide-away plan. Unable to replace his old friends from the US or to go on at a distance from them, he decided to come out of hiding for a single day and visit his old town.

Mr. X was caught at the border and charged with tax evasion.

Unfortunately, he probably wasn’t able to leave the US afterwards. In the end, public opinion took an empathetic turn. Mr. X was a sentimental guy who wanted to live his dream. 

9.     A criminal lottery family affair

Jun-Chul Chung and his daughter Kathleen lived a few months in the luxury of a C$12.5 million lottery treasure: mansions, cars, and more.

And why shouldn’t they?

For starters, the treasure was rightfully won by Daniel Campbell. He innocently walked into the Canadian store in Burlington in 2003 with a five-“free-plays” offer from the Ontario Variety Plus.

Kenneth Chung, Jun-Chul’s son, was managing the Burlington convenience store at the time. His father welcomed Daniel Campbell and validated his free plays.

Whether it was need or greed that stuck Mr. Chung’s fingers to Mr. Campbell’s winning ticket has not yet been disclosed in the broad media.

The facts, however, were relatively straightforward:

Mr. Jung discovered that one of the five tickets was a winner and kept it for himself. He returned the remaining four tickets to Daniel Campbell, who went out of the store completely unaware of what had happened.

Kathleen then cashed the ticket.

Wasn’t that risky?

She denied being related to the retailer, which was a weak move in the face of an official background check.

The Chungs enjoyed their stolen victory for several blissful months. Meanwhile, the Ombudsman’s report flagged the case as suspicious, and the CBC’s Fifth Estate launched a whole investigation.

It turned out Kathleen risked it a little too much. Soon enough, they found the link between Kathleen and Kenneth.

The happy ending: David Campbell finally got his win and shared it with his family and co-workers.

Sombre shade to the conclusion: The entire Chung family did jail time. Mr. Chung, aged 68, will live the next seven years imprisoned. According to their deeds, his children, Kathleen and Kenneth, got four years and ten months, respectively.

Their assets, of course, were seized by the courts up to C$8 million. The father and daughter must also pay C$2.3 million each and are probably still paying.

In truth, acts do have consequences. The Chungs are not the only family who got imprisoned over the lottery. Sadly, they followed the trend of lottery retailer scams that plagued Canada until not very long ago.

10.  Her own flesh and money

The Canadian Chace the Ace lottery proved to be a real family-wrecker in 2018 when Barbara Reddick and her nephew Tyrone MacInnis posed with the giant cheque.

Chace the Ace was all the rage in east-coast Canada at the time, and it often drew money for charity. The BBC called it a “record-breaking-million-dollar game”

It was lucrative and straightforward: as per its name, players needed to draw one card out of a deck, and whoever got the Ace of spades also got the jackpot.

Even if players did not win the jackpot, Chace the Ace provided plenty of chances to win and give back if your number got picked from the deck.

Who would suspect such a game to instigate greed, betrayal and an infamous lawsuit?

When Canadian Barbara Reddick and Tyrone MacInnis got C$1.2 million, the win was evenly split, C$611,319.50 each. But that was not what Barbara had in mind.

According to official statements, Barbara Reddick saw her nephew accepting half of her win as a betrayal. She confessed to the CBC that the boy she once saw as her own broke her heart.

Barbara Reddick had bought C$100 worth of lottery tickets. In her perception, Tyrone, her 19-year-old nephew, was meant to be a lucky charm worth half a consolation prize in case they did not get the Ace.

Seeing that they won the jackpot, Barbara Reddick planned on bestowing C$150,000 to Tyrone. Half a million Canadian dollars was an entirely another kind of heartache.

This was the beginning of the nightmare.

The 57-year-old woman took her 19-year-old nephew to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. Soon enough, his winnings were frozen. A long and complicated case mingled with family drama and heartstrings that snapped publicly ensured a lot of anxiety for the teen and his aunt.

Opinions online were split.

Who needed the money most?

Who was most righteous? Worthy?

The two never really reached an organic agreement within the family. A judge, however, decreed that MacInnis should receive C$350,000 and Reddick should get the remainder of the jackpot.

Nobody knows, however, who lost the most trust and sense of connection, or if these things were ever really recuperated.

11.  Keep your friends close, your tickets closer

Friends are tested in times of need or of extraordinary lottery wins. Here is how a C$5.75 million lottery ticket can break your friendship:

In 2004, Lorraine Teicht, Paul Carlisi, Silvana Pincivero, and Aurora Pincivero from Toronto put together their resources to buy a Lotto 6/49 ticket. A sign of solidarity and trust before actually making sure that they trusted each other;

When the four friends purchased the lottery ticket up, winning C$5.75 million, it didn’t strike any of them as good news because nobody had received the money. The confusion overtook any disappointment they might have felt, thinking they had not won.

Carlisi and the Pinchiveros only realized in 2006 that they won, by chance, while they were at a party. The numbers on the ticket oddly matched the winning numbers on the lottery website.

Naturally, they thought one of them must have sneakily cashed it in and stabbed the others in the back.

They needed quite some time to realize that Hafiz Malik, the convenience store owner where they purchased the ticket, scammed them. It wasn’t until 2009 that Malik finally pled guilty, and the four Canadian friends received their dues.

With their financial winnings finally restored, the four friends interviewed separately for the media.

Rumour has it the trust between them was never as fully recovered as their lottery money.

12.  Co-workers on lease

Co-workers on lease

Canadian Bell employees had a great time at work until a C$50-million lottery jackpot wagged its tail.

Nineteen Toronto-based work buddies claimed the jackpot first. To their surprise and frustration, a second group of eleven employees from the same workplace also claimed the prize.

These are the only premises of the story.

Disaster follows naturally.

The jackpot was sliced into 30 equal shares. Out of these, 19 were given to the original group, and the rest are disputed in court.

Legal documents, court expenses, and lawyer fees are probably most of the things Bell employees spent their lottery profits on.

They’re not the only victims.

Twenty-seven employees of the Powco steel plant in Ontario fought over an even more minor jackpot of C$24.5 million.

Alongside legal expenses, the Powco groups reported that their lives were completely changed for the worse as the work environment became toxic, leisure time crowded with stress, and many had to hassle and changed their jobs.

Over the three years of dispute, their relationships were also degraded due to the lower quality of their lives. 

Specialist research warrants that such legal disputes can significantly impact the lives of the parties involved. They often bring out group disloyalty combined with a strong desire for victory and a fear of betrayal and social unsafety.

In 2011, three out of 12 group winnings over C$1,000 started legal trials.

13.  You win some, you lose someone

Craig Henshaw is just a Canadian man who won the lottery. To be precise, he got C$21.4 million, for which he paid way more than the price of the ticket.

Before he won, he was already accomplished. He didn’t have any financial advantage, but he genuinely lived, though modestly, to do what he loved: teaching.

A few minutes before the big news, Mr. Henshaw had just enough cash left to make it until the next paycheck. It was a regular day at the grocery store, and Mr. Henshaw, as any regular 43-year-old customer, was digging through his pockets for the cash he needed.

The cashier checked his ticket: “C$21,000?” he gasped. No, it was C$21.4 million.

A celebratory dinner was in order!

Gathering his closest friends for a delicious treat, Mr. Henshaw quickly learned that even a fresh lottery winner’s credit card could be instantly declined.

He wasn’t able to return to his apartment that very night either:

But most surprisingly:

Some asked him to pay off student loans, and others were demanding personal favours. Many thought it was his responsibility to pay off their credit card bills, and friendships were already turning into something else entirely.

Towards the end of the day, he had gotten 365 texts.

Congratulation messages, perhaps? – Not many.

For safety, Craig Henshaw spent his first night as a multimillionaire in a hotel room. Then, the final blow: he had to quit his job.  Rumour has it that after winning, he decided to share a little of his joy with his fellow staff: a C$100 gift card to Starbucks to each of his colleagues.

It wasn’t enough. The bullying and harassment continued until Craig couldn’t continue his high school teaching career. 

Craig Henshaw’s life afterwards looked a little like going into hiding.

According to a few sources, he lives in a secluded apartment in Toronto. An allowance of his winnings sustains his everyday existence, and his wardrobe and lifestyle are as ordinary as any one of his neighbours’.

Not many friends were kept around.

Lottery bonanza aka tickets to prison

Lottery bonanza aka tickets to prison

Winning the lottery can really turn people into villains. Others turn bad to win the lottery. Occasionally, a winning ticket can create a crime-fighter.

Don’t believe us? Just read on

14.  Lotto, jail, and a little girl

The metal cha-ching of C$5 million in Canadian lottery money tumbled open the jail gates for Dan Carley.

Once the money came in, Carley’s life began to shape more and more into an action crime drama television series set in Niagara.

In February 2006, a green 24-year-old boy scratches a lottery card in a St. Catharine’s convenience store and strikes gold.

With a clean record and a pure heart, Carley is engaged to his child’s future mother and eager to spread his joy. In fact, he is so merry that he celebrates every single day. The merriment, as he later admits to the media, involves alcohol, endless parties and cocaine.

Quite quickly, he begins spending C$20,000 every seven days.

He tries to open a string of bars in the Niagara region in 2007, a bad investment that cost him C$1.5 million. Much of the lottery treasure sinks into his growing addiction to cocaine, oxycodone and heroin.

Meanwhile, his wife gives birth to their daughter and soon leaves him.

In 2013, he got arrested for biker gang activities in the Niagara region. These activities included heroin, cocaine, and marijuana trafficking, amongst other narcotics, as well as weapon trafficking, breaking and entering, blackmail, assault, and criminal organization.

In an interview he offered from the confines of prison, Dan Carley said he was content. In truth, he had survived addiction, downfall, separation and a suicide attempt that almost cost him everything.

His little girl never visited him in prison.

15.  Congratulations: brand new handcuffs

A gleeful Barry Shell went into the lottery headquarters to get his over C$4 million and came out in handcuffs.

Barry Shell from Toronto liked the money so much that in 2009 money stuck to him like glue. When he won the lottery, money from the past came a-knocking.

Sounds ideal, doesn’t it.

Not quite.

It seems that Shell had gone about bringing money into his life in all sorts of ways, including:

The total worth of theft was under C$5,000.

Shell had been investigated for his crimes and summoned in court in 2003. This was six whole years before his lucky win, during which time, Shell simply decided not to deal with it and failed to present himself to court.

Because the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation usually runs a check of their winners with the authorities’ help, Barry Shell was apprehended by the police just as he finished taking a photo with his fresh lottery cheque.

Shell’s story really puts in perspective the idea that even the lottery can be a powerful karmic instrument for some.

Needless to say, the first big chunk of his winnings went on his trial and lawyers. 

16.  Cinderella’s slippers lost to jail

Cinderella's slippers lost to jail

Like Cinderella, Sharon Tirabassi went to the ball and right back to her old room. But her Prince charming wasted both her crystal slippers to survive jail.


Sharon was never born rich.

One of five siblings, she ended up a sheltered teen and lived roughly when she most needed stability.

She survived on welfare for a while until she landed a job as a personal care provider. After that, Sharon still had no place to call her own, constantly moving from place to place.

Before becoming a Canadian lottery winner, she was renting an apartment as a mother of three children with her partner, Brenda Blinn, and a friend. She took the bus to work every day, relatively content with her life and her mere fantasies of a luxurious lifestyle.

Fairy-lottery-tale comes true:

One Easter weekend in 2004, Sharon wins the Lotto Super 7 C$10,6 million jackpot, and just like that, her life completely changes.

For starters: from having no place to call her own, she ends up owning several lush houses and flash cars parked in front of them, including a custom Cadillac Escalade, a Mustang, and a Dodge Charger.

Sharon begins to wear all designer clothes and travels to the pleasure of her heart, in the company of many friends who get to share in her new-found abundance.

However, Lady Luck was not as benevolent as the fairy godmothers of most childhood stories, and Sharon’s story quickly turned sour:

She and Brenda Blinn split up, and Sharon quickly found herself trapped in the responsibility of paying rents for her friends, settling their card debts, invest in their businesses or loan money for their personal necessities.

With many loans were never returned, Sharon also gave C$1 million to her parents and C$1.75 million to her four siblings.

Losing her slippers

She found Vinny, fell in love and married him. After a string of bad relationships, she finally found her Prince.

But their joy did not last long.

Vinny quickly made some bad decisions that cost him his freedom between 2007 and 2008 and in 2011. During his stay in prison, Sharon lost most of the properties, including her home in Ancaster.

After that, Sharon’s lottery fairytale vanished like a dream.

She is currently renting an apartment, taking the bus to work, and making ends meet from paycheque to paycheque.

17.  Winner & prisoner: because he can

Canadian lawyer Philip Johnston went into the Des Moines gas station, walked up to the cashier, and bought the Hot Lotto jackpot-winning ticket.

Or so he claimed.

The Hot Lotto jackpot was C$14.3 million in December 2010. No winner came forward for a long time until Johnston.

First attempt: In November 2011, he came unprepared for the verification questions, and his claim soon failed.

The second attempt: One month later, he claimed he needed to collect the ticket on behalf of someone else. Johnston argued that the real winner wanted to stay anonymous because he had set up a trust named “Hexham Investments” based in Belize.

He failed, again.

This broke the lottery’s capital rule: Canadian winners must reveal themselves publicly, thus confirming the system’s validity and integrity.

Third attempt: Twenty-three days later, before the ticket expired, a jackpot claim arrived on the lottery doorstep with the actual ticket, signed by Hexham Investments and another lawyer, this time, Crawford Shaw.

That time, the winner misspelled Hexham Investments, which raised serious concerns about the validity of the evidence.

Fourth and last attempt: The second lawyer, Crawford Shaw, met with the lottery board in January 2012. During the meeting, Shaw was asked to name everyone who ever had the ticket. Scared, he shut down any proceeding.

While the plot thickened, so did the theories:

  • Who was the winner, and what happened to him/her?
  • Was he/she blackmailed?
  • Robbed of the ticket?
  • Or worse, killed?

The rising suspicion pushed forward a monster investigation at the Des Moines gas station, the place of purchase.

Soon, the authorities released security cameras stills of a hooded, unrecognized buyer. They were called by a former co-worker of the buyer, who provided decisive clues to the authorities:

Gene Scheller was the former co-worker of Eddie Raymond Tipton, aka the hooded buyer and security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.

In a light conversation, Gene had suggested to Eddie that he could set the lottery numbers any time. Eddie’s eyes gleamed at the thought.

He did it, at first, because he could.

He could also go further and cash out.

Eddie’s giving in to the lottery temptation cost him C$2.2 million for fraud and 25 years of imprisonment.

18.  Great ticket, great responsibility

In every superhero story, there’s a drop of tragedy. Just read the comic books or check out how Randall Rush dedicated himself to catching white-collar criminals!

It all begins in 2015, with an Alberta Lotto Max C$50 million win.

Such luck cast a bright spotlight on Rush and an even larger shadow. After the mandatory press conferences, the mind-boggling shopping, and the high-class vacationing came the fourth and fifth riders of the lottery jackpot apocalypse: giving and/or investing.

  1. Giving to friends should have been on the Randall Rush “do not” list, which he made and disregarded soon after winning the lottery. In several interviews, Rush states that the money not only encouraged some bad decisions in his friends, but it also fueled the gambling addiction of one of them. Gambling can become a serious issue, as shown in the gambling addiction stories we present on our blog. There, you can find comprehensive material on how gambling develops as an addiction and a list of people who struggled with it and recovered;
  2. Investing can be a great thing to do with your money if you can do it wisely. But a lottery winner is often the target of various scammers, and Randall Rush was no different. He invested up to C$4.6 million into somebody’s mobile app linking social media and online shopping.

The second point of the Canadian lottery winner’s bad luck, investing, led Rush to bleed money into lawsuits that played out both in the United States and in Canada.

He discovered that the tens of millions in revenue he was promised were never happening. The expensive cars he was expecting were never parked in front of his house. Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake never showed up to the corporate party organized for his investment. And the list goes on.

The court record highlights the glam of Vegas nights, lush cars, and Hollywood-like myriads of schemes and scams.

Randall Rush had it tough for a while. The fame and glory of a winning lottery ticket did nothing for safety and stability, let alone prosperity.

His fight against financial crime rose to its current fame from this constant and grinding chaos and conflict. He is now doing pretty well financially, as long as there are white-collar criminals he can send behind bars.

19.  The worst jackpot: 75 cents

This one is a horror story for the lottery believers. It involves the Toronto mass-scammer David Stucky and C$1 million in murdered lottery hopes and dreams.

The worst jackpot

How David Stucky lured his victims

The operation was cleverly marketed as the “Canadian Lottery Buyers Association”. Buying a Super 7 lottery ticket through the association meant you joined a group share, and, for a smaller price, your odds went considerably higher.

The scam

The promise of greater odds was empty. Although the contract guaranteed it was a sweet deal, it never mentioned how large the group of players was.

Between March 1999 and May 2000, David Stucky made C$1 million in revenue with these scam emails, which did not only target Canadian lottery enthusiasts. Victims fell all over the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

While Stucky became a millionaire, your best bet was to win an average jackpot of (brace yourself) 75-cents. This wasn’t the only scam that worked like this. If you like the online gambling rush, we advise you always to play safely, which is why we keep upgrading our page with the newest and most secure online casino bonuses. On this page, our experts offer fool-proof guidance on choosing the best out of the new deals on the market and providing you with vital criteria and information so that you never fall for a shiny scam.

Happy ending

For his crimes against lottery-believers, David Stucky was sentenced to eighteen months with suspension for a guilty plea. He must, however, pay the authorities C$2 million, which is double the amount he made.

Winners who gave up: respectful mentions

Winners who gave up

There are a few stories that bring a dark twist to a winning lottery ticket. Either naturally or by choice, some lotto winners give up.

Let’s remember them!

20.  The dark slide of money

Have you seen the classic horror films that begin with a cheer and end in a shriek? Gerald Muswagon’s infamous roller-coaster demise fits right in.

In 1998, the high-energy Canadian won the Super 7 C$10 million jackpot in northern Manitoba. The first spending spree involved a house and eight big-screen TVs for his friends.

Next on the shopping list wasn’t groceries; Gerald’s Logging was a lumber-cutting business in the North House area. Sales were low, and his attempt died quickly, bleeding out large amounts of money.

Gerald Muswagon quickly fell into a pattern of addiction, buying drugs, alcohol and spending impulsively on any instant reward.

His criminal record, which began in 1981, reappeared in the early 2000s with an exhilarating police chase. This resulted in a three-month jail conviction for dangerous driving, and criminal activity did not stop there. 

In such a state, it was easy for the friends who got their brand-new TVs to want more and to get more from Gerald Muswagon, and it wasn’t long until Gerald was broke and broken down.

Eventually, he stopped it all. An ominous seven years after his big lotto break-through, on the 2nd of October, 2005, Gerald Muswaggen hung himself in his parents’ garage. These are some of the people he left behind:

  • his son Brayden;
  • girlfriend Tammy;
  • children: Bianca, Phoenix and Precious, Gerald Jr., Levi, Derrek, Sherrilyn and Missy;
  • parents;
  • aunts, uncles, relatives and friends.

21.  Justice, a lotto too late 

Dubbed by The Star newspaper as a “Lottery Warrior”, Bob Edmonds fought for lottery justice to the last breath.

Robert (or Bob) Edmonds, a feisty 80-year-old man from Coboconk, Ontario, sued the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation after three and a half years of permanent fight to have his story heard, first by the OLG and then by the Ontario Provincial Police. A short while after he succeeded, he was taken by cancer.

This is Mr. Edmond’s story

Mr. Edmond was one of many people robbed of their luck.

Going into a local convenience store in 2001, he asked for two tickets to be validated. Both of them carried a little reward: the first offered another free ticket, while the second was a golden ticket worth C$250,000.

As it frequently happened, the cashier did not disclose the winning ticket and only offered Mr. Edmonds the first one along with its extra try at Canadian lady luck.

To claim the win herself, the cashier manipulated Mr. Edmonds into divulging his purchase patterns and details on some of his earlier lottery tickets. Armed with information, she cashed in the golden ticket.

The news of her sudden fortune allows Mr. Edmonds to put two and two together. He takes matters up with lottery officials who ignore him over and over, until 2002, when the cashier and her husband are temporarily arrested for fraud and theft.

Charges are dropped. The 80-year-old man does not waver, however. Instead, he sues the lottery officials who, after three whole years of struggle, finally pay him C$200,000.

It isn’t until 2007 that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation finally give Mr. Edmonds the remainder of C$50,000.

One week later, on April 3rd, 2007, Robert Edmonds passes away in a hospital room at the age of 83, a little too soon to make of his lucky ticket anything other than a battle almost lost.

Lotto treasure hunts. Where did they go?

Lotto treasure hunts

Some stories refuse to offer a definite ending. If you like a good mystery, the following three stories might just convince you to start an investigation!

22.  Win and vanish

Are you a fan of gripping vanishing acts? How about a mystery lottery escape?

Quora sources reveal the story of another Montreal lottery curse victim who bought a magic (or perhaps cursed?) ticket.

The lucky Montreal guy took a regular trip downtown into a local store to pick up something completely unrelated to the lottery. Skeptics say it was pure coincidence that a huge lottery jackpot happened that week.

He got himself a ticket and, you guessed it, he won! The prize was no less than C$27 million.

The next thing anyone knew about him was that he left his rented place. That was also the last anybody heard of him.

In the doomsday words of his acquaintance: nobody who knew him ever heard from him again.

Win big and vaporize! 

23.  Living in a lotto paradise

Popular lore speaks of the Canadian lottery winner with a Luciferian strike.

Let’s imagine a version of heaven:

Palm trees sway their shade over clear, crisp water—newly-weds stamp their honeymoon steps in the sand.  Tropical aromas and lush landscapes watch over the playtime of children, parents, and grandparents. Uncles and aunts in funny hats sip on tiny umbrella cocktails.

Though a typical luxury holiday spot, Club Med Cancun upkeeps a decent atmosphere, especially suited to older customers who have already settled down, many choosing to vacation with their children.

In comes the lottery winner:

The dazzle-charm of a winning lottery streak could make anybody go a little mad.

A Quora story tells of a Canadian who, having had his bite of the jackpot, began a shameless party all over the resort.

For over a week, he made sure he tasted abundantly from every liquor on the island, carrying the temptation everywhere he went with loud-speaking, stumbling, and making passes at different people.

Outraged by his behaviour’s indecency, the families on the island were delighted to see him leave at the end of his stay.

However, our sinning lottery winner was so merry that he missed his plane. Finding himself alone at the airport, he decided he could afford some more hedonistic vacation time in Cancun.

Back at the resort, the Canadian tried casting temptation spells around him, stumbling all over the glistening sand, scouting for some good islanders to corrupt.

Eventually, heaven got rid of him.

Legends say that the Club Med staff made sure he got on a plane. He was not conscious and never returned to the resort.  

23,5. Wanted: have you seen this man?

Wanted: have you seen this man?

Another Quora legend mentions a man who lost everything to the lottery.

He bought ticket, after ticket, after ticket. Non-stop, to no avail.

Eventually, it seems that he sold his house and used most of the money to buy lottery tickets. But the lottery gods were unbending. No win came of his sacrifice.

Nobody knows what came of him. No news report has covered his story.

Can someone really devote so much to the mighty jackpot?

Is this just an urban cautionary tale, or does he truly exist?

We are still waiting for answers!

Resist the lottery curse – ultimate guide

Resist the lottery curse - ultimate guide

Would you like to make sure you do not end up like any of the characters in these stories? Here’s how to resist the lottery curse in 3 easy steps:

1.     Delay publicity

Let’s say you find out the jackpot is yours:

  1. Do not turn in the ticket immediately;
  2. Make sure you find out the maximum amount of time allowed before you can claim your ticket so that you do not miss the chance to cash in on that luck. Most lotteries will allow between six months and one year for winners to claim their prizes;
  3. Use this time to come up with two plans:
  4. a plan to fend off the effects of publicity;
  5. a financial plan for your award.
  6. Now you can claim your prize.

Canadian lotteries promote their winners to ensure that the game is transparent, that any irregularities will be brought to their attention, and reassure the population that anybody can win.

However, many stories of lottery winnings gone wrong feature many adverse effects of publicity:

  • Charities ask for donations;
  • Scammers swarm in with false investment opportunities;
  • Hackers try their luck at cracking the winner’s bank account;
  • Old friends and acquaintances learn about your success and flood your inbox;
  • You may be recognized in the street, accosted at the grocery shop, robbed, etc. 

Tip: Canadian lotteries only allow anonymity if the winner proves genuine cause for concern regarding his or her safety.

Winners could also avoid specific press interviews. Aside from the famous ceremony of the picture you might take with that extra-large cheque, additional interviews demanded by different news outlets may be declined.

Stay low, stay safe, and make the most of your money!

2.     Get together a trusted team

Money may mean investment, tax, estate transactions, family trusts, and all sorts of property. It’s crucial that you cover your bases:

  • A professional financial advisor will usually be able to guide you into the best investment, and out of any scams or draining deals;
  • Quality lawyers may be the most qualified to advise on real estate transactions, as well as any legally protective measures you may take to keep your funds safe and make secure contracts;
  • Get an accountant to best navigate tax return;
  • Research professionals with expertise in setting trusts, acquiring foreign property, etc.

Do not be afraid of paying for the best financial advice. This is one investment that will not only secure your money but also help you grow it.

3.     Make your plan

While it’s true that the economy is constantly shifting, you can always stay on top of a few things if you allow for some flexibility:

Settle on a list of priority spending

Even though everybody has different needs, do not omit your mental and physical health. Be healthy enough to enjoy your winnings.

With the help of your financial guidance super team, make sure you establish what immediately needs your financial attention, according to your lifestyle and specific economic context.

Get clear on your savings

You can save up your money in multiple ways, and your team of advisors will be able to detect your blind spots.

Lottery jackpots in Canada are not taxed, so the amount you win is the exact amount your bank account will hold. Nonetheless, if your funds acquire interest and investment income, they will be taxed.

Be mindful of inflation and economic trends when you choose a way of saving up so that it works in your favour.

Do not:

  • Do not suddenly change your lifestyle: being unprepared for the next steps or to sustain a new way of living may bleed you of money a lot quicker than you expect;
  • Don’t quit your job as soon as you claim your win: this ties in with the previous advice. You may give up a job you enjoy or the opportunity to set yourself with a truly fulfilling occupation, both intellectually and financially;
  • Don’t feel obliged to keep on giving to family, friends, or charities: in the long term, people around you may benefit much more from your thriving than from a free-cash-flow that may end quicker than you think. Remember, your jackpot may be a large number, but it is not limitless;


One thing that lottery winning stories gone wrong to teach future winners is that money does not guarantee a great life. Our actions are always decisive.

Many argue that riches can turn people into rags. Others claim that the experience of having everything you’ve ever wished for, even for a fleeting moment, is worth putting up with any consequences.

However, there are so many cautionary stories of winners who got carried away. They ended up losing their jackpot and their freedom or the life they had before ever getting that winning ticket.