Retired fisherman nets record B.C. lottery haul

VANCOUVER — Joe Katalinic usually picks his own numbers for the lottery. But for the July 26 draw, he got a quick pick for a second $12 Lotto Max pack.

Good thing he did. When the 84-year-old checked his ticket, he found he had won $60 million.

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“I went back to the place that I bought it,” he recounted Wednesday in a ceremony at the B.C. Lottery Commission. He purchased the ticket at the Seafair Smoke Shop in Richmond.

“I think they had two machines in there. I seen the 60 on there and got out of there fast as I could. Then I got in the car and went to two 7-11s, checked them again, and all three showed 60.”

He went home and told his daughter.

“She put her arms around me and started crying like hell,” he said. “Then my son-in-law came home from work and I told him, and all he did was laugh for a half-hour.”

After phoning his other daughter, he decided there was no rush in cashing it in. So he put the ticket in a safe deposit box at his bank and went about his life.

Sadly, his sister, Caroline, died on Saturday, he said. “I [also] had a knee operation a month-and-a-half ago; now the other one’s bothering me. There’s other things that I had more in my mind than the $60 million, you know?”

The retired fisherman has no grand plans for the cash.

“I’ll take it easy for awhile,” he said. “I’ll make little trips around B.C. and that, see my relatives.”

Katalinic was born in Flin Flon, Man., where his dad was a miner. But the family moved to Richmond in 1937, and he has been there ever since.

“I started fishing when I was 16 years old,” he said. “I quit school and went fishing. It was a seven-man crew out of Steveston.”

Katalinic’s $60-million win is the biggest by a British Columbian. The previous record was $50 million, which has been won on three occasions through the Lotto Max (Oct. 29, 2010, in Vancouver, March 14, 2014, in Langley and April 8, 2016, in Kelowna).

The highest Lotto Max prize has been $65 million, which was won in June by a couple from Montreal. On average, there are 11 Lotto Max jackpot winners annually in Canada.

B.C. has had 16 Lotto Max jackpot winners since the lottery was introduced in 2009. The jackpot is for $10 million to $70 million — there was a $39-million winner in Surrey on Dec. 28, 2018. There have also been 155 Maxmillion winners from B.C., which is a secondary prize of $1 million.

There are now two Lotto Max draws per week, and sales go up as the prize gets bigger — BCLC said it sees a 35 per cent sales increase when the Lotto Max hits $50 million, and an additional 25 per cent when the prize gets to $60 million.

The lottery that Katalinic won started at $10 million June 28 and rolled over four times before it hit $60 million July 26.

Katalinic doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who gets overly excited. But he admitted, “when I seen the 60, I went nuts … [I was] walking around like a wild dog, just crazy.

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