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Years before $48M jackpot, winner emptied piggy bank for charity

An old SooToday photograph is part of the amazing story of Juliette Lamour, the 18-year-old who won one of the biggest lotteries in Canadian history — on her first-ever ticket

Thirteen years ago, SooToday published a heartwarming photograph of two young sisters — and their bright pink piggy bank. 

It was late-January 2010. Juliette Lamour had recently turned 5, her sister Sophie was 2½, and a catastrophic earthquake had just rocked Haiti, killing tens of thousands of innocent people and leaving much of the country in ruins. Rushing to raise money for relief efforts, the Sault Ste. Marie branch of the Canadian Red Cross had set up a table at the Gardens to collect fan donations during a Greyhounds game.

The Lamour sisters were determined to help. They arrived at the rink (decked out in Hounds jerseys, of course) with their “sharing” piggy bank. It contained exactly $61.38.

That five-year-old girl who happily donated all her change to charity is now 18 — and $48-million richer, after coming forward this week to claim one of the largest jackpots in Lotto 6/49 history. Amazingly, her winning ticket was the first she’d ever purchased, a wild stroke of luck that triggered headlines around the world.

During the cheque presentation on Feb. 3, Lamour was asked about that long-ago picture of two little girls and their joint piggy bank. Is the universe somehow rewarding you now for your childhood act of kindness?

“I don’t know,” she replied. “Everyone that’s reached out to us has always been so positive. I just keep hearing: ‘You know, good things happen to good people. Everything happens for a reason.’ I don’t know why this happened, but I’m really just so grateful and I’m planning to do good things with the winnings.”

A first-year biology student at Algoma University, Lamour says her biggest dream is still the same: she wants to attend medical school and one day work as a doctor in Northern Ontario. The only difference now is she’ll have no trouble affording tuition.

After the press conference, Lamour sat down for an exclusive interview with Inside the Village, a news podcast produced by Village Media. (If you haven’t watched it yet, you really should. It’s the only interview she granted).

Again, Lamour was asked about the piggy bank (which, for the record, she still has at home). 

“I can’t explain it,” she said. “But the thing that we’ve heard the most — again, with all the positive messages — people just keep telling us: ‘Good things happen to good people. Everything happens for a reason.’ I never believed that before but I’m starting to believe that now. There is just no explanation for something like this to happen.”

Thankfully, Lamour has someone to turn to for sound financial advice: Her father, Kevin, is a longtime advisor and broker who co-founded Our Financial Plans on Queen Street in 2018.

“We’re going to keep family and friends and the community in mind,” Lamour told Inside the Village, when asked about her other plans for the cash. “We’ve always been big community people, and we want to give back to the community.”

When that day comes, she’ll have plenty more in her piggy bank to put to good use.

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