The odds of getting struck by lightning in Canada are less than one in a million.
The odds of winning the Atlantic Lotto are even worse — one in 13,983,816. And the odds that both of these extraordinary events should happen to the same person in Nova Scotia are nearly impossible.
But lightning strike survivor Peter McCathie beat all those odds when he and his co-worker, Diana Miller, collected their million-dollar prize at the Atlantic Lottery offices in Moncton on Monday.
McCathie’s brush with death occurred during a boat trip when he was 14. The lottery winner said he was wading through shallow waters near the shore of a lake when he was struck by lightning.
“I was trying to lock the boat up, it was a very sunny day, there was one big, white cloud in the sky and the lightning bolt came through the trees and hit me,” McCathie told CTV Atlantic.
Incredibly, McCathie’s daughter was also struck by lightning a few years ago in an eerily similar scenario while working as wilderness guide in Manitoba.
“They had pulled off the lake due to storms, so she was locking all the canoes, making sure they weren’t going to get blown away, and she got hit by lightning,” said McCathie.
McCathie and Miller have been buying tickets together for about a year, but they never expected to beat the odds.
“I honestly expected to get hit by lightning again first,” said McCathie.
So how unusual is his story?
A mathematics professor at the University of Moncton believes the odds may be in the trillions.
“By assuming that these events happened independently … so probability of lotto … times another probability of lightning – since there are two people that got hit by lightning – we get approximately 1 in 2.6 trillion,” said Sophie Leger.
Diana Miller is planning a trip to Cancun, Mexico with her share of the winnings, while McCathie says that after 30 years of marriage, it’s time for him and his wife to take a second honeymoon.
McCathie also owns the store where he bought the ticket so gets an addition $10,000 from the Atlantic Lottery Corporation.