TORONTO, Jan. 10, 2019 /CNW/ - A world of possibility for 2019! Today, a group of nine co-workers from southern Ontario picked up a $60 million cheque. The auto parts production line workers won the December 21, 2018 LOTTO MAX jackpot.
"We're a very close line – closer than any of the other lines," shared group leader Ala Hirmiz. "We always talk and joke and celebrate each others' birthdays. And now we get to celebrate this unbelievable win together!"
The co-workers work the same line and the same shift at an auto parts manufacturer in Guelph. Some are married, some are single; they have 17 kids between them; eight of them are immigrants, hailing from parts of the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa; and they range in age from 21 to 57. Most members play the lottery casually or regularly on their own with some of the members starting to play together in the last two months when the LOTTO MAX jackpot hit $60 million.
"I almost didn't hand over my $5 when it was time to buy our ticket," exclaimed group member, Mercedes Granadino. "But I had this sixth sense, like some spirit sitting on my shoulder telling me to play!"
For group members Mussie Kelete and Ella Nicole Cabrera, it was their first time joining the group play.
Fernando Meneses was the first to find out about their big win. "Mercedes called me very early on Saturday morning – I was still sleeping!" chuckled Fernando. "She said she heard on the radio that a winning ticket was sold in Guelph and urged me to check our ticket!"
Fernando checked their ticket on the OLG Lottery App to discover that they held the $60 million winning ticket! Slowly news of something going on started to spread among the group but not all members knew the details. Fernando asked everyone to meet on Sunday morning to officially announce the good news.
"When Fernando called a team meeting on a Sunday, I was curious. I was so very glad that the meeting didn't end up being about work," laughed Steven Rush. "My mind was blown. It's just so overwhelming!"
In addition to new vehicles, new homes and family vacations to Disneyland, time to relax is also on their minds. "I've been in Canada for less than a year and so far I've only known work – I'm excited to explore the country," shared Bassam Abdi.
As for their current jobs, most will slowly retire from the factory and upgrade their education or look to other opportunities. Tariku Birru has always dreamed of opening an Ethiopian restaurant and Sampath Pathiraja Mudiyansel will be investing in his home country. "I plan on buying a coconut plantation in Sri Lanka," he smiled.
"We are so blessed, happy and thankful," concluded Ala.
The group members are:
Ala Hirmiz of Kitchener
Fernando Meneses of Guelph
Bassam Abdi of Kitchener
Ella Nicole Cabrera of Guelph
Mercedes Granadino of Guelph
Mussie Kelete of Guelph
Sampath Pathiraja Mudiyansel of Guelph
Steven Rush of Guelph
Tariku Birru of Guelph
The winning ticket was purchased at Little Short Stop Store on Silvercreek Parkway in Guelph.
Since its launch in September 2009, Ontario LOTTO MAX players have won over $4.6 billion, including 61 jackpot wins and 557 MAXMILLIONS prizes, right across the province.
OLG is a crown agency that develops world-class gaming entertainment for the Province of Ontario. Acting in a socially responsible way, OLG conducts and manages land-based gaming facilities; the sale of province-wide lottery games; PlayOLG Internet gaming; and the delivery of bingo and other electronic gaming products at Charitable Gaming Centres. OLG is also helping to build a more sustainable horse racing industry in Ontario. Since 1975, OLG has provided nearly $47 billion to the people and Province of Ontario to support key government priorities like health care; the treatment, prevention and research of problem gambling; and support for amateur athletes. Each year, proceeds from OLG's operations also support host communities, Ontario First Nations, lottery retailers and local charities across the province.
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