A celebration before the storm
The night Doug Becker found out he’d won the 2020 Heart & Stroke Lottery Early Bird Grand Prize seems like another lifetime. It was mid-February, and Doug and his wife, Donna, were dining out with a group on a work trip to Milan, Italy. It was mere days before a major COVID-19 outbreak in the area would dominate worldwide headlines.
“We were ordering dinner when I got the call from Heart & Stroke,” Doug says. “I turned to my wife and said, ‘We just won a million dollars.’”
The evening turned into a huge celebration. “We were the last ones out of the restaurant that night. The chef came out with a cake with a big sparkler on it, and our server was in the Italian Philharmonic and came out playing the flute.”
But the celebration was short-lived, as the pandemic spread around the globe. Within a couple of weeks of returning home to Collingwood, Ont., the Beckers had to shut the 14 stores in their retail chain, Becker Shoes, and lay off employees. Though Doug says online sales have helped the family-run business — started by his grandfather in 1933 — winning the $1-million grand prize has relieved a huge amount of stress. When this is all over, Doug says he and Donna are looking forward to using their winnings to travel.
“We play a video from the night we found out we won, and we laugh,” Doug says. “Right now, we’re so busy in the business that unless I look at my bank account, I don’t even have time to think about it.”