Nov 26, 2008, 9:00 am
George Smith is the epitome of a good boy. For the past five years, the 48-year-old Meaford, Ontario man has been buying Super 7 lottery tickets with his mom.
They've split the cost of the relatively cheap entries but it's never really paid off.
George, along with his mom and dad, came to Toronto Tuesday to claim the big prize in last week's draw — a $15 million jackpot.
The winner isn't your flamboyant, screamingly excited, happy dance type. He's a quiet spoken man with a modest manner about him. And that's what he presented to the public as officials gave him a cheque with more zeros on it than he or his family have ever seen.
His adventure began when he stopped into a local convenience store after coming home from work Sunday night. "The first ticket I put in and the thing said 'you won $15 million!' And then I went to the girl at the counter and I said, 'I think I won $15 million.'"
But in his laid back way, it was the clerk who seemed more excited at the news than he did. At least outwardly.
"She was just having a real problem containing herself," he recalls laconically. "She was so excited."
But despite his outwardly calm demeanour, George was also stunned.
"I was rather shaking at the time," he remembers now. "I called my parents and I don't think they really believed me," he shrugs. His 77-year-old mother Wyn was alarmed by the call, when George first asked to speak to his father.
"And [then] I said, 'I guess I better go home and tell my wife."
But she didn't believe him, either.
But what about Ray Smith, the forgotten dad and husband in this monetary miracle? "My wife keeps reminding me she won it, I didn't," he points out. "So I am just hoping she'll share it with me."
George has been playing the lottery with his mom for five years but has actually put a few bucks on a chance at big money since way back in the days of the Olympic draws. He won about $90 in that effort — and that only happened once.
So what do they plan to do with the windfall? George is pretty modest about that, too. They'll be paying off several family mortgages and getting rid of some pesky student loans.
But one thing won't change — he doesn't intend to give up his job as part of his family owned business, building houses in Collingwood.
Now, he can lay the foundations for one of his own, hoping to start construction in the spring, something he's never been able to afford before. "I guess that's no longer an issue," he laughs.
As for the money changing the kind of people they are? Don't count on it. "I had to get some dress pants and shoes because my old ones don't fit," George notes. "I went to Wal-Mart and some things never change."
Smith is well aware his twist of fortune comes at a time when the economy is in crisis, homes aren't selling and the markets have taken a deep dive.
But he plans to help out as best he can. "We're not recession proof," he jokes, "but we'll do our best to stimulate the economy!"
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