They had to wait seven years, but seven Ontario men each collected cheques for more than $2 million Thursday, their share of a lottery win originally awarded to a woman now facing fraud charges.
The men, all friends and former co-workers who lay cable for a living, will each receive $2.1 million — their share of the original $12.5 million jackpot plus $2.3 million in interest for a total of $14.8 million split seven ways.
The men bought the ticket jointly while working together at a construction company.
"I'm just really happy," said Daniel Campbell, who along with the six other winners appeared at a press conference Thursday. "It's a big deal for myself and my family and I can maybe help them out and take care of them. I'm a little overwhelmed; a lot overwhelmed."
The Super 7 jackpot of Dec. 26, 2003, was initially claimed by Kathleen Chung in a convenience store in Burlington, Ont., managed by her brother.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation paid out the $12.5 million to the Chungs in 2004, but there was deep suspicion the prize claim was fraudulent and the OLG continued to investigate.
The Ontario Provincial Police laid charges of fraud and money laundering in the fall of 2010 against Kathleen Chung and Kenneth Chung, and their father, Jun-Chul Chung.
It was one of five cases identified in a 2007 report that accused the OLG of turning a blind eye to suspicious insider wins.
Database search key to finding winners
OLG chair Paul Godfrey said that OLG and OPP investigators were able to track down the rightful winners using its Data Analysis and Retrieval Technology system (DART), which did not exist in 2003.
"Motivated by a desire to right the wrongs of the past, an internal team set about creating this amazing technology," said Godfrey. "Together we have found the rightful purchaser of that Super 7 ticket."
The other six prize-winners are:
- Adam Barnett, 32 of Grimsby, Ont.
- Jason Dykema, 34 Burlington, Ont.
- Daniel MacGregor, 36, Burford, Ont.
- Michael Maddocks, 35, Beamsville, Ont.
- James Reaman, 40, Ridgeville, Ont.
- Joseph Reaman, 35, Ridgeville, Ont.
Men plan to keep working
The seven men were jubilant as they appeared before the cameras, and said they all planned to continue working.
MacGregor said his plans were to "pay off the mortgage" and "probably buy a pretty expensive truck."
"It's a little surreal," said Joseph Reaman of the win. "I got a baby on the way and he's pretty much set for life."
Barnett said the win would help make his life easier.
"It will be nice to live mortgage-free, and pay off all your debts, help my family out," he said.
The Super 7 ticket was purchased at That's Entertainment in St. Catharines, Ont., in 2003.
That original ticket was redeemed at the Variety Plus store in Burlington — where Kenneth Chung was manager.
It won a free ticket, which was checked at the Burlington store and found to have the $12.5-million winning numbers.
At first, Chung allegedly called the lottery prize office, saying she was phoning on behalf of her brother who "owned" the ticket.
OLG plans civil lawsuit
After news broke that the original prize claim was fraudulent, the OPP and OLG had to sort through more than 650 claims to find the rightful winner, Godfrey said.
It was an exhaustive process, but one made easier by the DART system, said Godfrey.
Developed with the help of Hewlett Packard and Microsoft, the DART system can analyze billions of lottery transactions dating back to 1999.
Godfrey said it allows investigators to analyze play patterns that can help confirm legitimate winners and identify potentially fraudulent claims.
"It can create detailed ticket profiles, to help OLG to find, fight and prevent fraud."
In addition to the criminal fraud charges the Chung family is facing, Godfrey said OLG will try and recoup the prize money through a civil lawsuit.