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'Money doesn't mean a whole bunch to me': Irma grandmother wins $50-million lottery

Edmonton Journal Edmonton Journal 1/12/2016 Postmedia News
111316-1226-na-lottery-49152779-1226-na-lottery-W.jpg 'Money doesn't mean a whole bunch to me': Irma grandmother wins $50-million lottery

A small Alberta town is home to a big lottery win and it belongs to a woman who can remember when her farmhouse first got plumbing.

“I milked cows for I don’t know how many years by hand, then we finally got a milking machine,” recalled Lois Olsen, 80.

“We milked cows for about 25 years. We had a bunch of pigs, we had range cattle, I raised chickens, turkeys; I had everything. A lot of hard work. No running water, until ’66 when we built our new house. I thought I was in heaven, I had running water and I had a telephone.”

Olsen lives in Irma, a town of less than 500 people about 175 km southeast of Edmonton. This summer, her family received the Alberta Century Farm and Ranch Award for 100 years of family farming on their original homestead.

On November 11, she bought a lotto ticket and became the most recent $50-million winner in the Lotto Max lottery.

To give an idea of the scale of that, Olsen’s winnings are about 38 times the yearly revenue of her town and 40 times its annual expenses.

Olsen realized she beat seemingly impossible odds November 12, the day after she bought the ticket at the Co-op at 5005 50 St.

At first she thought the win was worth $50.

“I took my ticket to the store and scanned it,” she said. “I was speechless.

“I pulled it out, put it back in, (then) it looked like $500. I pulled it out, put it back in and I said to the girl, ‘There’s something wrong with this machine,’ ” she said.

There were about a dozen people in the store and word spread quickly. She joked about barely slipping past the media days later when she went to an open house.

But neither the attention, nor the wealth, seems to have shaken her yet.

“Money doesn’t mean a whole bunch to me. I had hard times … maybe not now so much,” said the smiling mother of four, grandmother of nine and great-grandmother of eight.

In fact, she said she doesn’t even plan to leave Irma, the town she moved to from Minburn (about 50 km north) in 1957 when she married her husband.

She said she would like to have won 30 years ago to have more time to enjoy the money.

She said she has her eye on a new SUV and plans to help out her family.

When asked if there’s anywhere she’s always wanted to go, she responded: “Ireland, but I don’t care to travel any more. Now maybe I can go first class.”

The win is the third big payout in Alberta in a two-day span. A man from Coaldale won $1.2 million in the same draw as Olsen and an Edmonton resident won a jackpot of $1,000 a day for life, or $7 million, on the November 10 draw.

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