Calgary lotto winner Tom Crist to give $40M prize away

A Calgary man who won $40 million seven months ago and then kept it secret from his own children says he will donate his entire winnings to charity.

Widower Tom Crist was the winner of the Lotto Max jackpot on May 3.

“Cancer is a big one because my wife passed away from cancer, two years ago in February,” Crist said Monday.

“She was fairly young,” Crist told CBC Radio. “She beat it for six years before it finally caught up to her.”

“I just retired at the end of September so I was fortunate enough in my career to set myself up and my kids anyway, and there was no doubt in my mind where that money was going to go, it was going to go to charity.”

Crist, whose wife, Jan, died of lung cancer in 2012, said that he didn’t know which charities he planned to give to specifically, except for Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

“Tom Baker will be one of them because they treated her,” Crist told the Calgary Herald. “Tom Baker’s dear to my heart, no question.”

Crist didn’t tell any of his four children that he won the $40-million until Monday and they will now help him with the charities.

“It’s just going to unfold next year, so we’ll decide as a family what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it,” he told the Herald.

“The nice part is you can keep donating for years and years. It’ll be in my family trust … and we’ll just carry on.”

Crist plays both Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49 by subscription, meaning players can pay for their selections for up to a year at a time.

Subscribers’ numbers are checked for them by the Western Canada Lottery Corp. after each draw and they are automatically paid any prizes won.

In the case of any prize over $10,000, subscribers receive a telephone call first.

Crist, the retired CEO and president of electronics company EECOL, says he never expected a call — which he received while playing golf in California — telling him he’d won the largest lotto prize ever in Calgary.

“I wasn’t even sure which game I’d won on, or what the numbers were,” he said after his prize was announced Monday. “I’ve paid for the subscription when I get the renewal notice every year, and then I just file it.

“Sometimes I’d get a cheque for $10 or $20, but I never expected this.”

Crist’s prize is also the largest won on a lottery subscription within the Prairie-North lotteries region.

After an extended holiday in Southeast Asia in the new year, he will turn his attention to the donations, starting with the Tom Baker centre.

“I’ll go up and talk to them about how we can utilize the money. How do we get something in memory of (Jan)?”

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