Cleaning lady cleans up with $50M Lotto Max win

By   May 14, 2014

Sophie Rizavas, a 63-year-old from North York, knew praying for money is not right, but last Friday night she went for it anyway. “I said, please Jesus, send me some money,” Rizavas recalled. “I don’t need too much.” And then, the seemingly impossible happened: Sophie won $50 million in the lottery the next day!

Sophie Rizavas“It was a miracle,” she laughs, speaking to reporters. Rizavas said she’s always been a casual lottery player, but never in her wildest expectations — or prayers — thought she would actually win. Rizavas’ working days are over. She said that she has no idea what she’s going to do with all that money. “I don’t know how I’m feeling. I’m so happy. I don’t even realize yet,” she said.

Without knowing that she’s the owner of the winning ticket, Rizavas decided to stop in at a nearby convenience store to check her Lotto Max ticket. She asked the man working to check her ticket, and then, the machine buzzed and flashed.

“He said, ‘I think it’s $10,000.” And I said, ‘I don’t think so, I think it’s $50,000.’ ”

Only seconds after the buzzers and flash lights went off, the store phone rang. It was the OLG support centre. (As per OLG protocol, when a ticket that’s worth more than $5,000 gets scanned, the machine freezes and a representative calls the store within two minutes). That’s when Rizavas heard she’d actually won the Lotto Max jackpot: $50 million, plus an extra $5 for the Encore bonus on her ticket.

“He comes out from the counter and hugs me, and I said ‘Oh my God, $50 million!’ It’s unbelievable,” she said, adding that people in the store swarmed her to say congratulations, and she started crying. “The retailer started crying as well,” she recalls.

44 years ago, Rizavas immigrated to Canada with her husband, she said Tuesday.

She grew up in Athens, the only daughter to a father who worked in construction and a dressmaker mother. She dropped the good news on Mother’s Day, during a dinner with her children. Obviously, they were shell-shocked, Rizavas said. “We don’t know what is happening to us,” she said, shaking her head. Rizavas said she doesn’t know what she’s going to do with that enviable hunk of change. Her plans at the moment are to enjoy retirement with her husband and spend as much time as possible with her grandchildren.

And what of the list of lavish things that kind of money can buy? None of that is on her mind. “I’m very good where I am. I love my car. I love my house,” she said. But she won’t be returning to work anytime soon – unless it’s to visit her former co-workers, of course

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