In January 2018 something truly remarkable happened to a Canadian woman named Sandra Donaldson. But given that her husband was out of the country when it occurred, she decided to wait a whole week to tell him about it. Then, when he got home, she handed him an envelope with something heart-stopping inside.
Sandra and Bob Donaldson are a retired couple living in the Canadian town of Smithville, Ontario; they have been married for an impressive 36 years. But while, from the outside, Sandra and Bob might seem like regular folks, they nevertheless made local headlines in early 2018 – and the reason why is heartwarming.
It all started at the end of January 2018, when something extraordinary happened to the Ontario couple. But, in actual fact, only Sandra knew about it to start with. That’s because Bob, a one-time manager at a steel company in Hamilton, was away in China at the time.
Before Bob left on his travels, though, he asked his wife to do two things for him. One of the errands concerned the couple’s dog; the other was a small job that would likely have been easy to forget. Yet while Sandra managed to complete only one of the tasks in the end, it turned out that it was certainly the right one to choose.
Then, when Bob got back from China, Sandra had some news that she’d been itching to share with him. She had been careful to keep quiet until his return, as what she had to say was a big deal – and she had wanted to tell him in person.
And when the time came to explain to Bob what had happened while he had been away, Sandra made sure that someone was filming the big moment. Then, she sat down on the living room sofa and started to reveal all to her unsuspecting husband.
In the video, the viewer hears Sandra telling her husband that there is a mixture of good news and bad news. She decides, though, to begin with the positive element. “Good news,” she says, “you can get a new car sooner than you think.” But then she tells Bob something that virtually no one ever wants to hear.
Sandra continues, “Bad news – we have to go see our lawyer right away.” She also reaches behind a cushion to find something apparently hidden there. Upon hearing Sandra’s troubling words, though, Bob sits up straight and, understandably concerned, asks “Why?”
Next, Sandra passes her husband a small envelope – the contents of which explain everything. And as Bob starts to open it, Sandra pleads with her husband not to “freak out.” So, Bob puts his glasses on and nervously opens the envelope, with Sandra watching on eagerly.
Bob then pulls out a piece of paper from inside – and, within seconds, all the pieces of the puzzle fit for him. “You’re kidding me,” he says to his wife. “No! I’m not kidding you!” comes Sandra’s reply, as she begins to laugh and cry at the same time.
It appears, however, that Bob simply can’t believe what is happening. He looks around the room in disbelief, before checking the piece of paper over and over again. “No one believed me,” says Sandra, who by this point seems to be beside herself with excitement after having finally shared the wonderful news with her husband.
That’s right: Sandra and Bob were lottery winners. And it wasn’t a small win, either. In fact, the Donaldsons had scored a whopping $23.3 million (USD $18.5 million), and Sandra had somehow managed to keep the news from her husband for an entire week.
Not surprisingly, the heartwarming footage of Sandra breaking the news of their windfall attracted plenty of attention online. And, understandably, the couple’s jackpot win also featured in various local news reports. It turned out that the Donaldsons had been buying lottery tickets for years; their persistence certainly paid off in the end, though.
And of those two errands asked of Sandra, the retired woman chose to purchase a lottery ticket. But while Bob would usually play the couple’s set numbers every time, Sandra decided to go off-piste and buy a different type of ticket – a Quick Pick – when he was away.
And Sandra’s likely glad that she made that change, given that the couple walked away with a fortune. “It’s overwhelming. It’s very emotional,” Sandra told CBC News in February 2018, after the news had sunk in a little. She also said that she couldn’t sleep or eat while Bob was away and still unaware of the win.
But the anxiety surrounding the news didn’t stop Sandra from enjoying the first taste of being a millionaire. She told the website Niagara This Week how she had gone shopping before Bob got back from his trip, for example. And now Bob too will be able to treat himself to something he has wanted for a while.
Speaking to CBC News, Bob explained that he had his eye on a new car. And now that he’s in the money, it’s likely he’ll go for a better model – although he admitted that he’s “not a Corvette guy.” There are plenty of other things that the couple hope to do with the cash, though.
Using their winnings, the Donaldsons plan to see more of the world as well as making some home improvements. The money will also fund a new addition to the backyard in the shape of a swimming pool. And a walk-in closet has additionally been earmarked.
Sandra and Bob also have two kids and will soon have three grandchildren, so they hope to share the winnings around a little with the other members of their clan. “I feel grateful and happy knowing we can help our family,” Bob said to Niagara This Week.
The lottery winner continued, “And I think this is what people should do when they are so fortunate – help each other. We plan to pay it forward.” Meanwhile, Bob has forgiven Sandra for not carrying out the second errand he had set her: cleaning up after the dog. After all, she couldn’t have done much better with the first task.