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Ottawa tax collectors collect massive cheque in lottery

That weekly lottery pool paid off in a big way for 26 co-workers in Ottawa, ironically tax collectors with the Canada Revenue Agency. The employees will share the Lotto Max jackpot worth more than $32-million dollars. The lottery winners were in Toronto yesterday to collect their massive cheque. Group captain, Philippe Bussière, has been overseeing the collecting and purchasing of the tickets for about six years. He says the group is overwhelmed by the win.

“It’s been a crazy weekend of talking to the group, convincing them this win was not a joke. I heard a lot of joyous screaming on the phone.”

Philippe had photocopies of the ticket but realized, after the draw, that the real ticket was in a coffee mug on his desk. So he sped down to the office to make sure the winning ticket was in a safer place. Co-worker Francine Moore was the one who checked the tickets after each draw. When she noticed they had matched all seven, she asked her husband to check again.

“When he confirmed the numbers,” says Moore, “I was so excited that I wanted to start calling people but didn’t have anyone’s number and couldn’t remember anyone’s number. I was able to call a co-worker who was in the bath tub and didn’t want to take the call. I finally convinced her to take the call and when she heard the news, she was in shock.”

Suzie Vajcovec was heading to the Gatineau Hills with her dogs on Saturday when she got the call.

"I was hyperventilating, had to pull over, " she says, "Needless to say I didn't get to go for a hike with my dogs. I will make it up to them."

David Pembroke was in the process of leasing a truck, which he bought on the spot.

"Well, the truck is big enough to pull something," he joked today, "so I need a boat."

Lise Lafortune was having a cup of tea on her porch at the time, "My colleague said "this isn't a joke, you have to believe me, we won the Lotto Max."

Deanna Livingston still can't though.

"I still don't believe it. But I feel lucky for this group."

Bussiere purchased the winning ticket at the International News on Laurier Avenue. The owner says it is great news for them and hopefully for him.

"Probably bring more people here to buy tickets," says Runmin Lin, "so that's good news for me."

Fourteen of the winners will each receive $1.6 million dollars. Twelve other winners who shared tickets will receive about $800,000 apiece.

What will they do with the money? Most said they would pay off bills, go on a vacation, but none said they would quit their jobs. And with that, they ended the news conference because they said they had work to do.

The winners include current and former employees of the Canada Revenue Agency and range in age from 27 to 63 years old. The total amount of the win is $32,685,304.80.

Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa

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