Calgary-area man wants a judge to legitimize his fifth lottery win
CALGARY - It will be up to the courts to decide if a Calgary-area man's amazing run of lotto luck will continue.
Seguro Ndabene of Airdrie, just north of Calgary, has already won the lottery four times in the past five years - including two wins of $1 million, another of $100 thousand and a fourth prize of $50 thousand. But his biggest win of all - $17 million in a Super 7 draw back in January - is being disputed.
Ndabene's claim as sole winner is being questioned by a man who alleges the winning ticket was part of a group purchase and he wants a share.
According to court documents, Tony Koprnicky, also of Airdrie, is the brother-in-law of the woman who runs the lottery kiosk where Ndabene purchased his winning ticket.
Lawyer Adam Ailsby wrote in an affidavit on behalf of the Western Canada Lottery Corp. that Koprnicky contacted the agency to say he had been a participant "in an open group-buying agreement that was being run by the lottery kiosk in the Airdrie Co-Op store."
Ndabene's run of extreme good luck began in October 2005 when the native of Mozambique was living in Yellowknife and working for the Nishi-Khon Forestry Service.
He waited eight months before claiming the $1 million prize.
Ndabene, who has a diploma in business administration, said he had been playing the lotto for years and had no advice for other players except to wait for the machines that determine the winning numbers to make a mistake.
"If I had the formula, I would be winning every week," he joked at the time. "I'm glad I won something big. I got back most of my money I've invested over the years."
There have been numerous multiple winners on the Prairies, said Andrea Marantz from Western Canada Lottery Corp., who noted it's impossible to calculate the odds of one player winning five times.
"It's an unanswerable question because he won on different games and each game has different odds. You also can't possibly do any kind of an odds calculation unless you know how many tickets somebody has," she explained.
The lottery corporation routinely investigates wins of more than $10,000, which automatically includes winners of multiple major prizes.
It tried to work its way through this convoluted case but ultimately asked the courts to decide who gets the money.
"We are not a court of law and when there are competing interests and competing prize claims, we don't have a vehicle like the court has where everyone can present their side of the story and it can get a fair and orderly hearing," said Marantz.
Ndabene's lawyer expressed his frustration in an email to lawyers for the corporation in July, pointing out Koprnicky's complaint didn't come to light until after his client was already named the winner.
"The lottery corporation publicly posted our client as being the winner and it is our expectation that such complaint was filed after that was done," wrote Kevin Weeks. "Is it the lottery corporation's policy to publicly announce winners and then not pay them after the announcement is made? Seems odd to us.
"Our client's treatment and these delays are unacceptable and cannot continue."
Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Master-in-Chambers Judith Hanebury granted the lottery corporation's request for a discharge of its obligations in respect to the lottery money.
The money is being held in an interest bearing account.
Court documents said a cross-examination of Ndabene's affidavit was scheduled for Nov. 2, 2009.