When Hakeem Nosiru realized he had won $50-million in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 17, he put the winning ticket in an envelope and duct-taped it to his body for safekeeping.
That was on a Saturday. He might have avoided months of anguish if he had left it there until the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s offices opened the following Monday.
Instead, he gave the ticket to his wife to keep in her purse — “because she is more spiritual than me.” From there, it was lost.
Thus began a two-and-a-half month search for the slip of paper that could change the lives of the Brampton grandparents.
“I couldn’t sleep for days, I couldn’t eat,” said Abiola Nosiru. “I was devastated.”
The couple looked everywhere. “We even dumped out the garbage bag,” Mr. Nosiru said. “Piece by piece. Nothing.”
Then came April 1st, and a phone call from a member of her church who said “April Fool!”
The woman had found their ticket — it had already been signed and included their address — and returned it to the grateful Nosirus.
“When I realized I lost the ticket, I was frantic.” Ms. Nosiru said. “My grandchildren were playing with my purse while we were all at church…. it must have somehow slipped out!”
When the ticket was validated at a Brampton convenience store, “I ran up and down the aisles of the store crying with excitement,” Mr. Nosiru said. “Everyone was congratulating me and patting me on the back.”
After a standard investigation, the OLG rewarded the couple with their $50-million winnings on Monday.
Ms. Nosiru doesn’t know if the finder was aware that the ticket had won the jackpot and isn’t sure what they might do to reward her “because my thinking is all over the place right now.”
As for how they will spend the money, they plan to take care of their four children and five grandchildren and “see several wonders of the world.” But don’t expect anything flamboyant, she said.
“Right now I can’t say much because I’m too overwhelmed.”
Asked how she told her husband that she had lost the winning ticket, Ms. Nosiru said: “I can’t even tell him because I thought he’s going to shoot me.”
Her husband was more philosophical. “The only thing I said to her was ‘God giveth, God taketh. If we find it, OK. If we don’t find it I’ll call [OLG] and will let them know the ticket was lost.’”
He did supply receipts to the OLG, so the investigation may have concluded they were the valid winners even in the absence of a ticket.
Ms. Nosiru did offer some advice to future lottery winners.
“Please keep your ticket in a safe place and watch it all night. And sign it. And if you can tape it to your body like my husband did on that Saturday …. He said whoever wants to take this ticket has to kill me.”