Superstitions often come to the fore when it comes to lotteries and lottery purchases.
Some are long-held, while others are more one-off decisions.
For Nicole Parsons, it was the latter, and her superstitious choice was to do nothing… at least for a while.
And it appears to have paid off, big-time, for Parsons and Francois-Xavier Morency.
The St. John's couple was introduced Tuesday as the winners of $18,243,990 as holders of the winning ticket in a Lotto 6/49 draw earlier this month.
The draw in question was on Sept. 12, but Parsons hadn’t checked her tickets — which had been purchased at the Irving/Circle K at the corner of Hamlyn Drive and Frecker Avenue — on that date. She didn't do it a couple of days later after it was revealed the winning ticket had been purchased in St. John’s.
She even held back despite some familial urging.
“Mom had said if you had a ticket, you should check (it), and I said the sooner I go check it, the sooner I will know I’m not the winner, so I’m just going to hold on to it for a little longer," Parsons said during a cheque-presentation ceremony organized by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation at the Alt Hotel in St. John’s.
“I was hanging on to that dream that it could actually be us. I certainly didn’t expect that it would be.”
But eventually, Parsons relented and one day, while on her way to the gym, she took her tickets to the Irving store to have them checked.
“I saw the eyes go wide of the (cashiers) and they said, ‘I think you are going to want to sit down,' but there was nowhere to sit ... they just slid the paper across the counter and I looked at and I was in complete shock. I didn’t know if I would cry or if I was going to hyperventilate." — Nicole Parsons
The first she handed over for validation turned out to be for a future draw and the next was shown to be a non-winner.
The third was something completely different, even to the ear.
“There was a little sound I wasn’t familiar with and the cashier said (there was a message) ‘Congratulate the customer, it’s a major win'.”
That was followed by a printout read first by the cashier and a co-worker.
“I saw the eyes go wide of the two guys and they said, ‘I think you are going to want to sit down,’ recalled Parson, “but there was nowhere to sit.
“They were really discreet, which was super-nice … and they just slid the paper across the counter and I looked at and I was in complete shock. I didn’t know if I would cry or if I was going to hyperventilate ‘cause I had my mask on and it was hard to breathe.
“Yeah, it was 18.2 million. Whoever thinks they are going to win?”
Despite her obvious emotions, Parsons remained practical, calling the gym to cancel her appointment, then driving “carefully home,” where she met Morency in the driveway.
Again, her excitement didn’t totally get the best of her, as she and Morency moved “inside the garage so nobody could hear … and I told him we just won the lottery.”
Tuesday’s cheque presentation was for promotional purposes. The money was actually deposited with their bank electronically, something confirmed by Parsons after checking the account on her cellphone.
“My hands are a little sweaty and I probably won’t remember my password because I am so nervous,” she said while pushing in the code. “My banker hasn’t called either and I expect he’ll get a shock.”
Her sense of humour was maintained even as they waited on what one of the event hosts called the “longest log-in ever.”
“Well, (the bank account home screen) is saying ‘Welcome back, Nicole,’ which is a good sign,” she said before quipping “It will probably change to “Don’t ever leave us.’”
Then, holding up the phone she said, “There it is guys," then shivered a little, but only because of an accompanying explosion of confetti.
Parsons, who works in human resources at Nalcor, describes herself and Morency, a managing director at Maesrk Supply Services, as “mid-lifers,” but they seem to possess wisdom that often only comes with even more years.
“It is always really important to have hope for good things,” Parsons answered to a question about lottery purchases. “Everyone can wish to win the lottery, but to have the hope and to dream and think about positive things, that’s always been big for me.”
And while Morency described the experience as “overwhelming,” he added, “we can only be thankful and go on with the flow.”
When asked what they will do with the money, Parsons said they will “come up with a plan" after consulting with their parents.
They did say their future would include travelling, creating special experiences for their nieces and nephews, and to purchase a condo in Quebec City so they can visit Morency’s mother and family more often and easily.
“We’ll see what impactful things we can do for our family members," said Parsons, "and to create some really great experiences with our friends … and just make sure we make it last, and make it memorable and make it important and not be wasteful and do good things with it.”
Early retirement is likely, with both Parsons and Morency suggesting this would be something — in its own way — that could benefit others.
Parsons, who is involved with Choices for Youth, a local not-for-profit group, said it allows more time for volunteerism.
“I don’t know what it will be like to not work anymore, but I am certainly looking forward to having more time to give and help so much more,” she said.
Morency said they hadn’t been in a hurry to retire.
“(But) with this amount of money and the current (pandemic) situation, there are other families who need our jobs so they can go back to work,” he said.
“Then we can touch people in some other ways, maybe not directly, but in a way that’s very impactful.”
And with humour that had been evident throughout, Parsons added to the thought.
“We have new jobs anyway. We are co-CEOs of our new household budget of $18.2 million,” she said to laughter and applause.