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1974: Jackpot! Canada’s first national lottery winners

The Story


 It's 9:30 p.m. on April 15, 1974. At lottery parties being held in homes all across Canada, folks cross their fingers and kiss their $10 tickets. They watch with bated breath as the winning numbers for Canada's first national lottery are announced live on CBC Television. In the end, nine lucky ladies from Quebec City share the jackpot of $1 million tax-free -- making it the world's biggest lottery payout at the time. Twenty-five thousand others claim prizes ranging from $100 to $500,000, totaling over $8 million. The federal government's decision to institute Olympic Lottery Canada is controversial. But faced with the biggest Olympic deficit in history, the government sees the lottery as a good way to raise cash for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The gamble pays off. Two and a half million lottery tickets are sold in the first round (there would be eight more), generating over $15 million for the Montreal Olympics and amateur sports.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: April 16, 1974
Reporter: Steve Hooper
Duration: 1:00

Did You know?


• The winning number to the first Olympic Lottery Canada was 3093734.

• The Olympic lottery draw was televised live on CBC Television under the title of Mission Million...Possible. The show was televised simultaneously on both the French and English networks. Performers including Indian musician Ravi Shankar, opera star Maureen Forrester and sports stars including Maurice Richard and Barbara Ann Scott completed the 90-minute broadcast.

• A 48-year-old accountant from Guelph took home the second prize of $500,000 -- making him the biggest single winner. The third prize of $250,000 went to a corporal in the Quebec provincial police.

• In 1973 Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau promised that, "The Olympics can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby." Despite Drapeau's confidence and the revenue generated by the Olympic Lottery Canada, the 1976 Games ended up being a financial disaster for Montreal.

• The original price tag for hosting the Olympics was estimated at $310 million but with interest, the debt ballooned up to an astronomical $1.5 billion, placing Montreal in debt for decades.


Also on April 15:
1841: Joseph Seagram, one of Canada's most prominent entrepreneurs, is born in Fisher's Mills, Ont.. He founded Seagram's in 1883, which becomes a leading producer of whisky.
1995: A deal ending a turbot fishing dispute between Canada and the European Union is reached. The agreement gives Spain and Portugal a higher turbot quota in return for tougher quota enforcement measures.


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