Gary Noonan thought it was a nasty April Fool's joke when the clerk at his local Mac's Milk told him he'd won $1 million in the April 1 Encore draw.
The 50-year-old Perth man had gone in to the shop April 2, as he has nearly every Sunday for the past few years, to have his ticket checked and to faithfully replay his Lotto 649 numbers and Encore. But unlike those other times, the lottery machine began to spew out loud music and tickets. A joke, or a free ticket, Mr. Noonan though.
Instead, the young clerk stood dumbfounded, holding a validation for $1 million.
"It stopped her dead in her tracks," Mr. Noonan said yesterday after picking up his winnings in Toronto. "She had no idea what to do. And I have to admit, it stopped me dead in my tracks as well."
A few minutes and many phone calls to the clerk's boss later, Mr. Noonan left the thankfully empty store with the ticket and headed home to his wife, Suzanne, who was hanging laundry outside.
"We have this ongoing joke every Sunday, that maybe this week we won't have to go to work," said Mr. Noonan, "so when I told her she'd better sit down, then told her, I think she thought it was some kind of practical joke.
"Then she saw the look on my face and I think she was just about sick. And has been kind of a basket case ever since."
Mr. Noonan, who has been a 3M production worker for 26 years, says the win will "change my life, but not my lifestyle."
They live in a comfortable split-level home on an acre of land and have no plans to leave their jobs — though they might retire earlier than planned.
The focus will be on providing post-secondary education for his children Kathryn, 17, and Adam, 14.
"A million is an awful lot of money, but not the same amount of money it was 10 years ago even," he said.