TORONTO – A Canadian couple endured a roller-coaster ride of emotions when a lottery ticket worth $50 million went missing only to be found and returned by someone at their church.
Hakeem Nosiru won the Jan. 17 Lotto Max draw and was one day away from claiming the money when the signed ticket, which he taped to the inside his wife's purse for safekeeping, was missing after they attended church.
That sparked a frantic search of their home, with garbage bins being upended and their contents picked through, an effort that left Nosiru and his wife — who are originally from Nigeria — empty handed and feeling "miserable.
But that despair turned to joy after a fellow member of the congregation discovered the ticket and reunited it with them on April 1 — a return made possible because Nosiru signed the ticket with their address.
But the saga wasn't over yet, as Nosiru gave the ticket to Ontario Provincial Police, who were investigating the matter for Ontario Lottery and Gaming to ensure there were no further snags.
Everything checked out and Nosiru and his wife Abiola were beaming for the cameras at the OLG prize center Monday, telling reporters they were planning on travelling the world and helping out their family.
Abiola Nosiru said that when she realized her husband's winning ticket had disappeared from her purse "I had a fly in my stomach and I couldn't sleep for days. I couldn't eat. I was devastated."
"We just wanted to see the reality. And the reality is right here now," she said, fighting back tears.
She wasn't sure what they'll do for the woman who ended the ticket's exodus, but told her "I just want to say thank you."