A Sidney bookkeeper and financial planner who has helped clients manage their money for 33 years might be needing help himself after winning a $55-million Lotto Max jackpot.
It’s the largest prize ever won on Vancouver Island, and second-largest in the province.
Scott Gurney, 58, deals with numbers every day, but said even he had to sit back when he saw the number of zeros in the prize amount.
“I called my assistant to my office and she initially read the number on my phone as $55,000. She then realized it said $55 million — and we couldn’t do anything all day after.”
It was the day after the Feb. 28 draw, but he was in no rush to make his win public as he pondered his options. The $55-million ticket languished in a locked draw in his office — although he admits he would open it occasionally just to stare at it. Over the last month, it became harder and harder to keep it a secret, as he revealed his good fortune to his friends, clients and family.
Gurney says he has been purchasing lottery tickets since he was 19, but not regularly.
On the day he bought the winning ticket, he was doing some grocery shopping at Save-On-Foods on Beacon Avenue in Sidney. It was a long day and he was running late, but he decided to buy a ticket anyway.
Gurney, who is single, said he always takes the numbers randomly generated by the lottery machine and never buys the Extra. “I like nice round numbers,” he said. “I sometimes pick a $20 Mega Pack, which automatically gives me a Lotto Max Extra anyway.”
As for his plans for the money — which he is well aware will automatically put him in the 53 per cent tax bracket — the financial planner said he intends to “park” it for now.
Clearly not one to abandon his clients in the middle of tax season, he’ll wait until after it’s over to embark on some world travels, and hopes to eventually spend six months at home and the other half of the year travelling.
“We all dream of what we would do if we won, but once it happens, it makes you rethink everything,” he said. “What my plans were six months ago will be markedly different six months from now.”
While he has decided to retire — “This will absolutely be my last tax season” — he plans to hire someone to continue to look after his bookkeeping clients.
At the cheque presentation on Tuesday, Gurney noted that he and his family have supported local causes over the years, and he plans to continue to do so, likely donating some of his windfall to charities including Saanich Peninsula Hospital and B.C. Children’s Hospital.
“I can’t think of anything else better than helping children,” said Vancouver Island’s newest multi-millionaire.
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