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A Canadian lottery player from Fort McMurray, Alberta who was evacuated from his home during wold forest fires earlier this year has pledged to donate some of his Lotto 649 winnings.

Jason Wheeler, who along with the rest of the population of Fort McMurray was evacuated from his home for weeks in May this year after a forest fire became out of control and took out some of his hometown, has been rewarded for his hard times after he won $1 million on the Canadian Lotto 649. Mr Wheeler told lottery officials that he was camping when he won the lottery on July 6th, and he didn’t immediately realise that he was a winner.

A few months after an Alberta woman won $2 million on the same lottery, “I checked the lottery website when I was sitting around the fire and saw there was a million dollar winner in Alberta,” he said in a statement as he collected his $1 million Lotto 649 winnings. “I thought, ‘How nice would that be?’”

On his return from camping the next day, Mr Wheeler took his ticket in a lottery retailer and scanned it in a ticket checking machine. “I had a few tickets to scan,” he said. “When I got to the big winner, I had to put it through the scanner a couple times.” A year ago, an oil worker from Atlantic Canada who worked in Fort McMurray won $675,000 on a lottery scratch card.

Once he did believe it, however, Mr Wheeler said that he couldn’t spend the Lotto 649 money without thinking about the charities that helped him and his family, along with other Fort McMurray residents, during the evacuation this spring, just like Margaret Kelley from Northumberland who won £300,000 on a National Lottery scratch card and immediately wanted to help charities. “We got a lot of help from the Canadian Red Cross, food banks and the SPCA. I want to return the favour,” the Albertan lottery winner said, just like a group of National Lottery winner from the North West of England who wanted to give back to charities following their wins.

After making his donations, the rest of the Lotto 649 winnings will be used to pay off his mortgage and some other debts. “This really gives me some peace of mind,” he said of the money that will be left over. “I won’t have a mortgage, so we have money to fall back on.”

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