Jason Rinaldi is the co-owner of a business that manufactures custom made hot rods. Despite that – and maybe because of it – the small business owner never had a lot of money and like most of us, was struggling to make ends meet while paying the bills.
And then this week, his fortunes changed forever in the biggest way possible. The 28-year-old Whitby native, who now calls Guelph home, came down to the Ontario Lottery offices on Bloor St. E. Thursday afternoon to pick up a cheque worth $35.3 million and a place in the history books.
The sole winner of the Lotto 6/49 draw less than 24 hours before has claimed one of the biggest jackpots ever won by a single person. And single is the word. Rinaldi isn’t married and instantly becomes not only a multi-millionaire but one of the most eligible bachelors in all of Canada.
And it almost didn’t happen. The small business owner had been playing the lottery using his numbers for about a month and was spending the grand sum of about $20 a week.
It was getting too expensive so he figured he’d give it one last try on Wednesday, buying his ticket at a Shopper’s Drug Mart.
Incredibly, he defied odds of 13,983,816 to one to win the jackpot. The all-time record belongs to a man in western Canada, who scored an astounding $54 million on the same lottery in 2006.
Not that Rinaldi is complaining about his windfall – all of it tax free. It’s been something of a whirlwind day for the winner. He didn’t even know he’d won the prize until Thursday morning.
“I went to work … about a quarter to eight, looked on the Internet. Didn’t believe it – I just didn’t really care but I signed it anyways. I looked on it again. It was a winner.”
And what about his status as an unmarried man? He’s game for just about anything, but you’ll first have to get by the ‘pit crew.’ “They have to be pre-approved by the two sisters and sister-in-law,” laughs his mother Wendy. “If they fit in, they work good.”
Still, they won’t hold you to a $35.3 million standard. “We’re not that hard to get into the family,” she promises.
As for whether he’ll go back to his job? “We have a thing we say at work. Like we just wouldn’t show up one day if we win the lottery. I just kind of walked out the door and left.”
Despite that pronouncement, Rinaldi doesn’t intend to give up his business. But he just might take it a lot easier.
Among his other plans: taking care of his family and a trip to – where else? – Las Vegas. Is he feeling lucky a reporter asks him, almost facetiously. His answer is equally lighthearted. “Yeah, I feel pretty good,” he responds to a wave of laughter.
But he won’t be far from a car. Rinaldi still isn’t sure exactly what he’ll do with his incredible fortune but he does have one appointment for Friday he intends to keep – going shopping for a brand new black 2009 Corvette, the car of his dreams.
He can now afford to buy a few of them if he wants.
All-time lottery prize list
October 26, 2005
$54,294,712 (1 winner, Lotto 6/49, Western Canada)
Aug. 12, 2006
Nov. 8, 2006
Apr. 4, 2007
May 17, 2002
$37,841,970. (4 winners, Super 7, split Quebec, Western Canada and B.C.)
$35,000,000 (Guelph small business owner in Lotto 6/49)
February 6, 2004
$32,500,000 (3 winners, Super 7, Ontario and Quebec)
April 23, 2004
$30,000,000 (1 winner, Super 7, Atlantic Canada)
October 10, 2003
$30,000,000 (3 winners, Super 7, B.C., Western Canada, Ontario)
April 11, 2003
$30,000,000 (1 winner, Super 7, Ontario)
August 7, 2004
$29,140,524 (2 winners, Lotto 6/49, Ontario)
Nov. 12, 2005
$27,227,325 (1 winner, Lotto 6/49, Western provinces)
Sep. 2, 1995
$26,410,706 (4 winners, Lotto 6/49, Quebec, Ontario and Western Canada)
Dec. 29, 2004
$25,418,294 (1 winner, Lotto 6/49, Atlantic Canada)
Feb. 5, 2005
$25,146,316 (2 winners, Lotto 6/49, B.C., Quebec)
June 12, 2004
$25,000,000 (2 winners, Lotto 6/49, Ontario and Quebec)