Brockville resident wins more than $718,000 in Catch the Ace lottery

It took more than 22 months, but a winner has finally been crowned from the Kin Club of Russell's Catch the Ace lottery.

The lottery began Sept. 8, 2019 and lasted for 679 days, with a couple of pauses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, 31-year-old Shawn Stephenson of Brockville took home the grand prize.

"When I got the phone-call, I was shaking so bad. The excitement, my nerves got to me," said Stephenson on Tuesday.

His name was pulled from more than 50,000 tickets for the weekly prize of $51,529. He thought the ace of spades was hiding in envelope number 4.

"I picked envelope 4, thinking maybe envelope 4 was the lucky number," Stephenson said.

Doug Anthony with the Kin Club of Russell said he was relieved the ace of spades was finally found.

"I had ongoing nightmares of going to the last day and picking the envelope and not having the ace of spades in it," Anthony told CTV News. "It was a relief to see that ace of spades this Sunday."

Anthony arrived in downtown Brockville Tuesday morning to present an oversized cheque to the winner.

Stephenson's mother Marilyne said she's lost her voice from screaming on Sunday.

"I'm so excited for him. Everybody is happy for him," she said. "I almost passed out!"

The idea to pick envelope number 4 came from a family friend Brenda Lacombe.

"I told him to pick number 4," Lacombe said, "I bought tickets on number 4, my daughter bought tickets on number 4. I'm very happy for him."

Lacombe also won more than $6,000 from a weekly Catch the Ace draw earlier this year.

Anthony said people from all over the province were buying tickets to try and find that elusive ace, with 9000 tickets bought online on Saturday alone. The lottery was only open to Ontario residents.

"We had people from Nunavut, Alberta, B.C., Nova Scotia all trying to buy tickets," Anthony said. "What we saw near the end, people were coming across the border, physically to be in the province just to buy tickets.

"I think what really resonated was the fact that we have a physical draw. They could see the draw and we were donating to six local charities. People could see the value in that," he added.

Catch the Ace is a progressive lottery where 52 cards are put into 52 separate envelopes, shuffled and numbered.

One name is drawn from the drum to win the weekly prize, and only that one person has the opportunity to open an envelope on the board.

"If they find the wrong envelope, which they did for 50 weeks in a row, then the jackpot grows," Anthony said.

He is glad it's over so that the charities involved with the lottery can receive their share of the money raised.

"We have $972,000 to give back to those six charities. That is amazing money," Anthony said.

The charities include Winchester Memorial Hospital, Osgoode Care Centre and Breast Cancer Action, Ottawa chapter.

Stephenson already knows what he's planning to do with some of his winnings.

"Buy a house for me and my mom and my animals," he said with a big smile.

"It just touches our heart to see that type of life-changing money going to somebody that can really use it," added Anthony. "We're just so proud of what we've done."

"We gave out $444,000 just in weekly wins, and then we gave out another $666,000 for the jackpot, $1.1 million went back to just local people playing the game," he added.