The worst-kept secret in Sault Ste. Marie is finally official: Juliette Lamour, an 18-year-old Algoma University student, is the mystery winner of one of the largest jackpots in Lotto 6/49 history.
After weeks of rumours, the lucky lady revealed herself this morning during a press conference at the Sault headquarters of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), where she stepped forward as the ticket holder for the $48-million Gold Ball draw held on Jan. 7.
At 18, the lifelong Sault resident is the youngest winner of such a huge jackpot. In fact, her winning ticket was the first she’d ever purchased.
Lamour’s $48-million haul also ranks among the largest-ever 6/49 prizes. The biggest — $64-million — was awarded in 2015.
“I didn’t believe it,” Lamour said, when asked about her initial reaction. “It felt so surreal. I was just in so much shock. I didn’t know how to react.”
Lamour recently turned 18, the legal age to buy lottery tickets in Ontario. She was on her way to visit her grandfather — and bring him some ice cream — the day she made her life-changing purchase.
“ I called him on the phone asking what kind of ice cream he wanted,” she recalled. “And he said to me: ‘You just turned 18, go buy a lotto ticket, test your luck.’ So I did.”
Lamour stopped at the Circle K at Pine and McNabb.
“I got to the corner store and I’m in my car — and I didn't know how to buy it,” she laughed. “So I had to call my dad. I said: ‘Dad, Grandpa wants me to buy a ticket. How do I do it?’ He's like: ‘Oh, just go inside and get a QuickPick.’ ”
Her purchase turned out to be a $48-million case of beginner’s luck.
A part-time pharmacist’s assistant at the Rexall on Trunk Road, Lamour was at work on Sunday Jan. 8 when the OLG issued a press release revealing that the winning $48-million ticket was purchased somewhere in the city. Her fellow employees were frantically checking their tickets.
“Oh, I have one,” Lamour told them, pulling out her ticket. Her boss checked it on his phone using the OLG app.
“It came up: ‘Winner, Gagnant!” Lamour said. “The pharmacist, his hands went to his head, he fell on his knees. He's like: ‘Oh my God!”
Her first call was to her mother. “She answered the phone and I was like: ‘I won the lottery!’ ” Lamour recalled, mimicking her scream. “She’s like: ‘No you didn’t!’ ”
Dozens of OLG employees attended today’s news conference, breaking into applause multiple times as Lamour recounted her amazing story.
For many in the audience — and across the city — Lamour’s identity was no mystery. Rumours immediately started to swirl on social media after the Jan. 8 announcement, especially among local high school and university students, Lamour’s peers. Within days, the winner’s name and age were an open secret around town.
“I hear that this is perhaps the worst-kept secret in all of Sault Ste. Marie,” joked Duncan Hannay, OLG’s president and CEO, before introducing Lamour. “I know it’s a small community and word travels fast. But what I can tell you is that you don’t know half the story. It’s really a heartwarming and amazing story and I think you’ll be all be blown away when you hear it.”
A strong student and talented athlete, Lamour is a Superior Heights graduate and longtime member of the Steel City Ignite volleyball club. Now studying biology at Algoma University, her ultimate goal is to become a doctor.
“I plan to continue with a four-year program,” she said. “And I would love to attend the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and come back to practice in Northern Ontario.”
Again, the crowd cheered.
One thing is certain: Now that she is a millionaire 48 times over, Lamour has a trusted person to turn to for financial advice. Her father, Kevin, is a longtime advisor who co-founded Our Financial Plans on Queen Street in 2018.
Asked what she plans to do with all her newfound cash, Lamour said “we’re going to keep in mind family and friends,” and figure out how best to support initiatives that benefit the community. But she needs some time, she says.
“You know what, it’s a lot,” she said. “I have to think about it. We’re definitely going to keep friends and family in mind. And tonight, I’m still a university student so I’m planning on finishing my biology report.”
Follow SooToday for much more coverage of this breaking local story throughout the day.
A full news release from OLG follows:
Juliette Lamour of Sault Ste. Marie is now part of Canadian lottery history after being awarded a $48 million cheque as the sole winner of the Lotto 6/49 Gold Ball jackpot from the Jan. 7, 2023 draw.
The 18-year-old university student is the youngest person in Canadian lottery history to win a jackpot of this size. While there have been other 18-year-old lottery winners across Canada in recent years, no one has won as much as Juliette.
Another amazing element to Juliette’s story is that she won the multi-million-dollar jackpot on her very first lottery purchase. “I just turned 18 and my grandfather suggested I buy a lottery ticket for fun,” explained Juliette during a winner’s celebration at OLG Headquarters in Sault Ste. Marie. “When I went to the store, I wasn’t sure what to ask for because I had never bought a ticket before, so I called my dad who told me to buy a Lotto 6/49 Quick Pick. I still can’t believe I hit the GOLD BALL jackpot on my very first lottery ticket!”
Juliette forgot about the ticket until news started to spread that the winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $48 million was purchased in the Soo. She was at work with her colleagues when they told her the winning ticket was sold in the city. That’s when she remembered she had a ticket for the draw. Her co-worker offered to check her ticket on his OLG App. When he scanned the ticket, the ‘Winner/Gagnant’ jingle started to play, and ‘Big Winner’ was displayed on the phone. “My colleague fell to his knees in disbelief. He was yelling, in fact everyone was yelling that I won $48 million! I didn’t understand what was going on at first. I couldn’t process this news. We kind of made a scene in the store that day!”
The shock and excitement continued as Juliette called home with the unbelievable news. “Because I was crying – happy tears – of course, my mom couldn’t understand what was going on. Thankfully my dad was able to piece together that I won the lottery jackpot! I knew I couldn’t focus on work and my boss told me I could go home, but my mom wanted me to stay and finish my shift! My colleagues called out ‘come and get her,’ and my parents eventually came to pick me up.”
As Juliette was trying to process the enormity of the lottery prize, she was comforted knowing that her dad is a financial planner. While the majority of the money will be put away for now in carefully chosen investments as they develop a bigger plan for it, Juliette remains committed to her dream of becoming a doctor and coming back to practice in Northern Ontario. “I wanted to go to medical school before winning the lottery. Now I can pursue this dream without worrying about grants or loans. As a member the Garden River First Nation community, I was eligible for educational assistance programs, but I no longer need those resources which means someone else in the community can benefit from that funding. I really want to come back to this area as a doctor so I can give back to my community.”
When asked about any immediate “bucket list” plans, Juliette says she is focused on finishing her studies for this school year and then will start to plan some summer adventures. “Once school is done, my family and I will pick a continent and start exploring. I am not a “sit on the beach” type of person. I want to experience different countries, study their history and culture, try their food, and listen to their language.”
Juliette says when she started to tell the news about her lottery win to those closest to her, she received some words of wisdom that she will never forget, “‘Money doesn’t define you, it’s the work you do that will define you.’ While I am so excited about the opportunities that lie ahead, I feel comforted knowing I am surrounded by the grounding love of my family. They will be with me on every step of this incredible journey.”
The winning Lotto 6/49 ticket was purchased at Circle K on McNabb Street in Sault Ste. Marie.
Lotto 6/49 offers players a chance to win two multi-million dollar jackpots every Wednesday and Saturday, for the same $3 per play.
The Classic Draw offers a fixed $5 million jackpot for every draw, while the Gold Ball Draw guarantees a $1 million prize, or the growing jackpot that starts at $10 million and can exceed $60 million. Click here for more information about the new Lotto 6/49.
OLG supports safe play and wants to keep the fun in the game. That’s why OLG is proud to be a leader in promoting responsible gambling with our globally recognized PlaySmart program.