Minden cottagers Doug and Enid Hannon helped put Kinmount on the map last week after the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) announced the couple as winners of February’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot.

The winning ticket was purchased at the Kinmount Independent Grocer ahead of the Feb. 20 draw. While the couple has declined interviews with media, including The Highlander, they shared their story with OLG ahead of the April 25 announcement.

“I was coming home one evening and called my husband and asked if he wanted me to stop and pick up some lottery tickets – he said ‘no, let’s have supper, and then we need to discuss something.’ I thought to myself ‘uh oh, what have I done’,” Enid said.

Doug had brought up OLG’s homepage and scanned their winning ticket, purchased a few days earlier.

Community bash in Kinmount

“I said ‘oh, we’ve won $70,000’ and Doug said, ‘look at it again’,” she added.

Lots of screaming and crying ensued, Enid said. The Hannons kept the news to themselves for weeks before bringing their family into the loop just prior to the public unveiling. They’re planning to share the money “to make sure our family enjoys it,” Doug said.

Enid said she’s planning some family vacations and wants to renovate the kitchen at the couple’s Lakefield home. The Hannons say they have no plans to move.

OLG held a community celebration in Kinmount April 26. Between noon and 3 p.m., company representatives descended upon the main street stretch of County Road 121, offering free lottery coupons to passersby. The company also organized a DJ and coordinated with Gus’ Restaurant for complimentary food.

OLG spokesperson Tony Bismonti confirmed the Hannons win was the biggest of 2024 thus far.

“Obviously, whenever someone wins $70 million it’s big news, but because it happened in such a small community, we wanted to come out, spread the love, and really celebrate the occasion,” he said. The winners didn’t attend.

The owners of the Kinmount store also received a small bonus, around $2,000, for selling the winning ticket, Bismonti said.

The maximum payout on all OLG lottery games is $70 million, though Bismonti teased that will be going up in the fall. He said he wasn’t aware of any other win of this size in Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County.

Yashwanth Putta has owned Kinmount Independent Grocer for about 10 months. He said he took a call from OLG April 22, as he was preparing for a family trip to New Brunswick.

“I didn’t believe it – they said they wanted to come and host this event, but I thought it was all a joke,” Putta said. “But what an incredible thing to happen. There have been other wins at the store before, but nothing like this. It’s definitely once in a lifetime for us.”

His friend, Surya, was the cashier the day the Hannons bought their winning ticket. He remembers it well – one of this past winter’s rare cold spells had engulfed the community, meaning business was slow. He estimates selling about 30 lottery tickets that day.

Once news broke that a winning ticket had been sold in the Kawartha Lakes area, Surya said he had a feeling he’d processed it.

As the days turned into weeks, his confidence subsided. Surya said he’d forgotten all about it when Putta called him last week to break the news. When he found out it was the Hannons who had won, Surya said he was happy.

“They stop in a lot. I saw them a couple of times after they bought that ticket. They came in to buy usual things. They kept the secret,” he said.

Gus Norman, who owns Gus’ Restaurant in town, said this is a great story for Kinmount.

“I had no idea about any of this until last week… seeing someone win $70 million in a small town like Kinmount, it’s just unheard of. I was talking to a couple of ladies in line for food today and they said they hadn’t seen crowds like this for the [Kinmount fair] parade even. So, to have the community come out like this is incredible,” he said, estimating around 300 people attended the celebration.

“Nobody knew where Kinmount was until the $70 million ticket was sold, but now everyone knows where Kinmount is,” he added.