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Toronto teacher claims $21.4M lottery jackpot

Sep 29, 2011, 8:24 am

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Canada Lotto Max

Winning Lotto Max ticket was sitting on his fridge for months

Includes video report

A Toronto-area high school wood shop and technology teacher played hooky Tuesday to pick up his $21.4 million Lotto Max jackpot.

"I called in sick today — surprise! I'm not sick," said Craig Henshaw, 42, smiling as cameras recorded his check presentation at the offices of Ontario Lottery and Gaming.

All kidding aside, Henshaw says he loves teaching so much he's just going to take a temporary break while he vacations somewhere warm with his parents and digests his good fortune.

He had bought the July 8 ticket at a Shell gas bar on Dupont St. in Toronto, put it on his fridge and took off for a summer vacation with his girlfriend, backpacking in Europe and "counting my pennies," oblivious to the fact he had millions of dollars waiting for him at home.

It wasn't until Henshaw was back teaching at school that he decided to check a stack of tickets at a grocery store. At first he thought he'd won $21,000 and that made him pretty happy. Then he talked on the phone with an OLG spokesman who said, no, it was $21 million. Henshaw dropped the phone.

"I was frozen. I couldn't believe it," says Henshaw, who has been buying tickets for years and always goes with quick picks.

His groceries forgotten, he rushed home to tell his parents and girlfriend of two years, an accountant in Florida. He intends to take her back to Europe soon, in style this time, and also foresees a wedding coming up — "something small, intimate and relatively classy."

Henshaw plans to set up education funds for his two young nieces and nephew.

Then he'll be paying off the loan on his reliable Jetta — nothing fancy planned to replace it. "It gets 1,000 kilometres a tank. I'm going to keep it!"

Although Henshaw plans to take some time off teaching, he figures he'll eventually go back because "I love what I do for a living."

But the Lotto win might also buy him time to fulfill a dream — writing an adventure novel for boys, he told reporters at the news conference also attended by his parents, Don and Sharon Henshaw.

When he first heard that Craig won the money, Don Henshaw had a similar, slippery-fingered reaction to the news as his son. "I dropped the saw I was holding," he said.

Fortune smiled on this Henshaw as well and no one was hurt.

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