Thunder Bay, Ont., couple win $50M Lotto Max jackpot

A Thunder Bay, Ont., couple who won the Lotto Max jackpot picked up a cheque for their $50- million prize in Toronto today.
Jo-Anne and Louis Chikoski of Thunder Bay kiss after accepting a cheque for $50 million in Toronto after winning the Lotto Max jackpot. (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation)

A Thunder Bay, Ont., couple who won the Lotto Max jackpot picked up a cheque for their $50-million prize in Toronto today.

Louis Chikoski, 56, and Jo-Anne Chikoski, 54, held the winning ticket in the March 23 draw but waited to check their numbers for a few days because they had heard rumours that someone else in Thunder Bay was claiming to have won.

"We found out last Wednesday, and we still can't believe it," Louis Chikoski said.

"I was having a coffee … as my wife was talking to her mother on the phone, we had the numbers of the draw on the computer, and I was going through the ones on our ticket.

"It was the third line down on our ticket, and I kind of yelled at her and I kind of scared her and I asked her to read it too. After awhile, my wife kept asking 'Am I dreaming this?' I gave her one hug and a kiss and I told her, no you are not."

Chikoski said he was overwhelmed when the numbers were checked at the store.

"When that receipt came out with all  those numbers on it, that's when they had to pick me up off the floor," he said. "My heart started doing double-time."

Jo-Anne Chikoski said she kept reading the numbers in disbelief.

"I kept reading the numbers over and over, taking it to the computer and then I said, 'I must be asleep.' I told my husband, 'You better not be punkin' me.'"  

Jo-Anne said the money means they can finally have the freedom to travel.

"We can go to the East Coast, the West Coast, wherever we want to go," she said. "We were walking around with our jaws hanging, we can finally start to smile."

However, she said they want to "keep their feet on the ground" and take their time thinking about what to do with all the money.

Her husband agreed, saying they are seeking financial advice before making any big decisions.

"We want to catch our breath and talk to financial advisers and family about what to do with this life-changing amount of money," he said.

Jo-Anne, who is retired, said they have no children, but plan to help extended family.

Louis has been a worker at a paper mill for 40 and had plans to retire this fall.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation presented the couple with their cheque Monday afternoon at OLG headquarters.

With files from The Canadian Press