A collector almost a millionaire... in lottery tickets

BLAINVILLE | An enthusiast from the North Shore has accumulated nearly a million lottery tickets, a collection that includes practically all the models issued in Quebec in the last 50 years.

Jean-Guy Lirette is not a compulsive gambler, but a "compulsive collector", as he himself admits with a laugh.

"A day without playing in my tickets, it's almost not done," says the one who started his collection in 1972, two years after the launch of Loto-Québec.

In a small room in his basement, more or less 925,000 precious scraps of paper are carefully stored in narrow cardboard boxes that rise from the floor to the ceiling.

Each series of lottery tickets is listed in chronological order, numbered and then entered into an Excel sheet.

Copies of the May 1989 Mini, featuring the Bonjour Printemps event in Victoriaville.

Photo Nora T. Lamontagne

Copies of the May 1989 Mini, featuring the Bonjour Printemps event in Victoriaville.

"When you start, you put it in a little box, but at some point it overwhelms the memory capacity," he says to justify his inventory worthy of a seasoned archivist.

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Jean-Guy Lirette is far from having scratched each piece of his impressive collection. In fact, he only buys two Mini tickets a week and a Lotto Max from time to time, to “let loose”.

The retiree can nevertheless count on a business in the sector to give him the used tickets of its customers, and this, since its very beginnings.

“Most people, when they don't win, they tear up the ticket and put it in the trash. It's a massacre,” sighs the 70-year-old collector.

Today, Mr. Lirette estimates that he owns a copy of approximately 99% of all lottery tickets ever issued by Loto-Québec.

“There are a few winning tickets among the lot, but I don't force myself to pick any up. »

Enthusiastic, he shows the Journal the first "scratch" in Quebec, a special Valentine's Day edition that produced a smell of cinnamon when scratched, and some magnificent Louisiana lottery tickets.

40 hours per week

There was a time when he exchanged with a hundred international correspondents and devoted 40 hours a week to his leisure, in addition to his full-time job in telecommunications.

With age, however, the congiariophiliste, as lottery ticket collectors are called, decided to focus on Loto-Québec.

But why so much effort to accumulate lottery tickets, in particular?

“Of course we can say that these are vulgar scraps of paper that we pick up to look at them. But it's like money or stamps... They have a certain value,” he pleads.

  • Jean-Guy Lirette will exhibit part of his collection at the Salon des grands collectionneurs de Québec in September.
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