For many of the clients coming into Sidney resident William Scott Gurney’s office, they likely would have been unaware of the life-changing bit of paper sitting in his locked desk drawer – a winning lottery ticket for $55 million.
Gurney works as a bookkeeper and financial advisor. But rather than take the cash and run, he hunkered down and endeavoured to make it through tax season (checking the drawer every couple of days to make sure the ticket was still there).
“I just didn’t want to – when I first noticed – it was ‘do I close the doors or stay open?’ But so many of the people that are my clients and friends have been with me for 20, 30 years, and it just wouldn’t be fair to them to just throw them out on the street like that. So I made the decision to stay open through tax season and I’ve got my wonderful staff out there working.”
Gurney first bought the ticket on Feb. 28 and after checking the numbers several times in disbelief, he decided to keep it relatively secret. Residents’ speculation about the identity of the mystery jackpot winner was put to rest Tuesday (April 4) when the B.C. Lottery Corporation announced Gurney had won February’s $55 million Lotto Max jackpot prize – the largest win on Vancouver Island. He purchased the ticket at the Save-On-Foods location on Beacon Avenue in Sidney.
Once the busy period is over, Gurney plans on retiring and finding somebody to take over his business.
“I’ve tried to keep it small. But it was getting harder and harder when people are saying ‘we’ll see you next year.’ As much as I’d love to, I don’t know if I want to do another tax season.”
As a financial advisor, Gurney is well positioned to handle the life-changing amount of cash that’s coming his way and plans to follow the advice he’d give out to any of his clients.
“Take six months, stop. Don’t do anything rash. Just evaluate what you want and then start going from there. Don’t make rash decisions.”
Gurney already had a month-long trip planned this year and hopes to see as much of the world as he can, saying he’s eyeing trips to Morocco, Turkey, and perhaps a safari.
“There are so many amazing things out there. But every time I come home, in Sidney going on the pier, I’m amazed by what we have here and all the tourists I meet out there.”
As far as his permanent home, he plans to stick on the Island, having moved from Regina in the ‘90s, though he’ll be looking for a house with a dock as he’s an avid crabber. He’ll think about helping out friends and family but wants to make sure the money lasts. He also plans on mulling over which charities he’d like to donate money to, saying he has a particular fondness for the BC Children’s Hospital and the Saanich Peninsula Hospital.
“The funniest thing I’ve found is that – we all dream, if we win the lottery, we’ll do this, we’ll do this, we’ll do this. I noticed you rethink that once it happens because now it’s a possible reality.”
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