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Ottawa Lotto Max winners say money doesn't solve everything

An Ottawa woman who became a multimillionaire after winning the lottery has made her dream of owning a yoga studio come true. But she says that while the money she won has solved some problems for her family, it also created others.
Tine Ferrone says that while the money let her pursue her dreams, it didn't solve all of her family's problems. (CBC)

An Ottawa woman who became a multimillionaire after winning the lottery has made her dream of owning a yoga studio come true. But she says that while the money she won has solved some problems for her family, it also created others.

Tina Feronne won the $48 million Lotto Max jackpot on her first try about six months ago.

For the better, I get to put my dreams into reality. For the worse, I can't trust the way I used to trust.- Tina Ferrone

She used to teach classes at Blue Bamboo Yoga in Stittsville, and for seven years she dreamed of owning the studio herself one day.

Now she does.

"It's amazing. It's life-changing. It gives you hope, it gives you faith in doing something that you're passionate about, and believing in what you want to do with your life," Ferrone says.

"It's what I'm supposed to do, it's what I'm meant to do, and right now this is my purpose. And hopefully, when this all gets off the ground, I can take off for a year or six months."

Couple bombarded by requests for money

CBC Reporter Ashley Burke
Watch CBC reporter Ashley Burke's TV item on this story tonight on CBC TV starting at 5 p.m.

Before she won the $48 million, money was tight and her husband, Liam McGee, was battling cancer and was unable to work. 

Then in April, Ferrone bought her first Lotto Max ticket on a whim and won the jackpot.

"I think I slept with the ticket under my pillow for like, three nights. You can't process it. You absolutely cannot process that. Nothing in the world could prepare you for that. Nothing," she says.

Feronne and McGee, who is now in remission, bought a bigger house and their dream cars.

But it's not all good news. 

Feronne and McGee have been bombarded by hundreds of letters and messages from people around the world, begging for money.

Ferrone and her husband, Liam McGee, are setting up a foundation to help cancer patients who are struggling to pay their bills. (CBC)
"The mystery factor was the letters and Facebook requests and emails from strangers, mainly, asking for money for any reason you can think of. Everything from people who were suffering from cancer to people who wanted money to put their kids through college," McGee says.

"It's very weird. Some of them, you go through them and feel bad for the people. Others, you look at them and can't believe someone's that arrogant. But at the end of the day, unless you take the time to go meet these people and visit them, you don't know who's legit and who is a scam artist."

Ferrone impersonated in charity scam

Ferrone hired several of her former colleagues at the RA Centre to come work at the yoga studio she now owns. (CBC)
​Ferrone also had to call police to file a fraud report after someone impersonated her online in a charity scam. 

"It's very upsetting, that people would go to that length. ... I think that's just horrible," she says. "For the better, I get to put my dreams into reality. For the worse, I can't trust the way I used to trust."

The couple is now setting up a legitimate foundation to help cancer patients struggling to pay their bills.

At her yoga studio, Feronne has hired three of her friends and co-workers from her past job at the RA Centre. 

Feronne is also opening a second yoga studio called Beyond Yoga in the new year. It's currently under construction on Hearst Way near the Eagleson Park and Ride.