Coronavirus-immune "employee" is a first for Loto-Québec
By Kate Northrop
MONTREAL, Canada — While lotteries continue to offer reconfigured claims processes and practices to combat the spread of COVID-19, Loto-Québec showed off its adherence to social distancing guidelines in a unique way last week as it celebrated its first in-person check presentation since the start of the pandemic.
On Thursday, July 23, Loto-Québec presented Laurentides resident Guylaine Desjardins her check worth $6 million (US$4,479,390) using a human-sized robot for the July 1 Lotto 6/49 drawing.
The robot, of course, is immune to any disease, but Desjardin was also be reassured that no one had handled the check for 72 hours before it was given to her.
"No one has touched the check for the past 72 hours, so you can open it right away and check to make sure all of the zeroes are there!" Loto Québec CEO Lynne Roiter said.
The press briefing took place at the Casino de Mont-Tremblant and was accessible to the public via Facebook Live to comply with public health measures. Everyone at the event also wore masks.
"In spite of the mask, we can still see your laughing eyes," remarked Julie Houle, who hosted the Loto-Québec event. "It shows that even under the conditions we're living in, you're living in a moment of beautiful happiness."
The robot, which was dubbed SARA, was designed and controlled by the Walking Machine student club at the engineering school École de Technologie Supérieure (ÉTS) based in Montreal. Centech, a company that aims to promote innovation in Québec, supported the endeavor in partnership with Loto-Québec.
Desjardins didn't discover her big win right away — she only checks her tickets every four drawings and discovered she won several days after the July 1 drawing.
Her patience definitely paid off. She's been playing the same combination every Lotto 6/49 drawing for over 25 years. Her lucky numbers are 1, 12, 27, 30, 34, and 49 with Bonus number 35.
She typically buys her lottery tickets at her workplace, the Dépanneur Lacelle in Mont-Laurier. The retailer receives a $60,000 (US$44,889) commission for selling the winning ticket.
"Wait, let me go get my glasses!" the winner exclaimed after the clerk told her she just won $6 million. Desjardins recalled being nervous for about an hour afterwards after trying to process winning the jackpot. "I'm not sure even now if I realize what happened."
She immediately reached out to her two sons, the first people who heard the good news. The older son checked the results on the Internet one extra time to make sure this wasn't a dream.
"We want to just invest it for now given that we aren't able to travel right now," she said. "So we'll invest it for a while before we decide what to do with it. We'll take our time."
In the meantime, Desjardins plans on celebrating with her sons (and spoiling them). Once circumstances allow her to travel once more, she wants to buy a three-wheel motorcycle that she'll use on several trips.
"I thought I might one day win like a $100,000, but I never dreamed I'd win $6 million."
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