Sue Vine holds the big cheque won by the Ladies of the Rouge Facebook group.

By Sue Vine

During the pandemic, I created a local Facebook community page called Ladies of the Rouge. It was just for women to empower one another as we navigated through the chaos and struggles of COVID-19.

I also wanted to make it fun, so in 2021 when the jackpot for Lotto Max was $70 million, I asked who’d be interested in throwing in $2 each to play. I was overwhelmed when 237 women showed interest. I probably would have ended up with more if I had kept it open!

Someone else won that  jackpot, but most of the women wanted to keep going and we played until the summer of 2021. The world was starting to open up by then so we stopped. We had some wins but nothing big.

September 2021 rolled around and with kids remaining online for school we needed to add more fun. I threw it out to the group again, this time with a deadline, and ended up with 106 committed players.

We played in September and October. On November 4, I checked the tickets from the previous night’s draw on my #OLG app. I always check all the tickets three times. The first time, I didn’t notice anything different. I thought it was $100. I checked it the second time and noticed “Big Winner.” I thought to myself, “Oh, maybe they now consider $100 to be a big winner.”

I checked it the third time and got the same thing. This time, I looked at the numbers closely and discovered that it was $100,000! I think I scanned that ticket 10 times before believing what I saw. Once it was verified by the store, I felt confident to share with the group.

Have you ever seen that Lotto 649 commercial where all the co-workers get called into the boardroom and someone announces the group win? I wanted to do that, except we’re scattered all over the neighbourhood. I do videos for work, so I made a video announcing to the group that we won BIG! Many of them thought it was a joke. They even had to watch the video a few times. Then Messenger started blowing up!

OLG said I had to hang onto the winning ticket. Yikes! I went from excited to nervous. I was responsible for $100,000 to 106 women in my community! Where was I going to put it? What if it gets lost? What if someone steals it? The only safe place I could think of was a safety deposit box at the bank. It stayed there until I was ready to send it to OLG.

Trying to collect lots of OLG paperwork from 106 women was a challenge. Thank you Anita Klubal-Orchard for helping me with this. I don’t think OLG knew how to handle us (just like our partners). They’d never had such a big group win. We made history!

Finally, on December 7, 2022, after one year and one month, I had the privilege of going downtown to the OLG office to claim our prize on behalf of the group. It’s not a life-changing win but it’s brought the winners so much joy and a little extra help at Christmas.

I have asked all the ladies to promise me that they’ll put themselves first and treat JUST THEMSELVES to something without feeling guilty or ashamed.

Thank you to my “#LOTR Joyluck Club” of women for believing and for allowing me to be your “Dream Coach.” We did it and it was a blast!