I'm set 'til age 85,' says lottery winner Wayne Hiltz
Lucky scratch ticket ended a lifetime of financial struggle for Bay Roberts couple
It's been 21 months since Bay Roberts resident Wayne Hiltz got the shock of his life after scratching a lottery ticket and discovering he was the winner of $2 million.
After a lifetime of financial struggle and plenty of hardship, including two heart attacks at the age of 40, it was the break he had long dreamed about and a true rags to riches story.
For the previous three years, his primary mode of transport — summer and winter — was a pedal bike that he cobbled together from spare parts.
Wayne and his wife Mary lived in a leaky apartment, and survived on social assistance payments and help from the food bank.
It wasn't easy, but that all changed on May 16, 2013 after Wayne spent $20 of what little money he had on a scratch ticket at a local grocery story.
He hit the jackpot, and life is quite different these days.
My dream came true. I've got my home. I got my toys. What more do I need? I got no worries. None. I don't have to worry about anything, anymore. - Wayne Hiltz
"My dream came true," he said earlier this week during an interview with the CBC.
"I've got my home. I got my toys. What more do I need? I got no worries. None. I don't have to worry about anything, anymore."
The bicycle is now hung on a wall in his garage, a constant reminder of where he came from. It's right next to the novelty cheque from the Atlantic Lottery Corp.
Outside in the driveway, there is a hulking Ford F-250 pickup, a 32-foot travel trailer, and several all-terrain vehicles.
They all sit in the shadow of the Hiltz homestead. It's a modest four-bedroom dwelling surrounded by maple trees on a quiet street, but the roof doesn't leak.
It's all bought and paid for, and is quite a leap forward for two people who once struggled to put food on the table. Wayne often made "pond boats" and sold them in order to pay for his cigarettes.
"We were living off $240 every two weeks," Wayne, 61, recalled.
Dispelling the rumours
Wayne said he has invested much of his winnings, and his monthly income is considerably more these days.
"Two million dollars is not a lot of money. But the way I've got it set up ... I'm set til age 85," Wayne said, eager to dispel rumours that he has squandered all his money.
He referred to "friends" coming out of the woodwork, looking for handouts. He's changed his phone number on two occasions.
He's heard some of the things people are saying, but doesn't care.
That's not true, added Wayne, insisting he's managing his money well, and is also helping out his four adult children, and six grandchildren.
So is life much better these days? You betcha, said Wayne.
"It's a lot better. I don't have any worries anymore. I mean, that was part of my stress when I had my heart attacks. It was the stress."
The money has allowed Wayne to indulge in some of his interests, especially automobiles. He's spent an estimated $400,000 on those "toys."
He's also built an impressive movie collection and there are more than 50 diecast replica cars on a shelf in his entertainment room.
Still eating TV dinners
They have some nice things in their home, including an opulent pool table that was left behind by the previous owners. But don't get the idea they're living in the fast lane, dining at fancy restaurants and sporting high-priced clothing and jewelry.
Aside from having financial freedom and the flexibility to come and go as they please, not much has changed, said Mary.
"He still goes to Walmart and gets his $1 TV dinners," Mary quipped.
"Why go out and spend a whole pile of money on food?" Wayne responded.
So does Mary feel like the Queen of her castle?
"No. I don't even think it was meant for us," she said, sounding a little awestruck by the good fortune that's come their way.
Wayne acknowledged there's much less stress in his life.
Indeed, his biggest worries some days is deciding which Mustang to drive, or whether to use the pickup.