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Winning the lottery Jason Rinaldi donated $500,000

Beyond a stone and iron electric gate, up a long treed driveway and past immaculate landscaping, Jason Rinaldi answers the front door of his 7,800-square-foot home in rural Durham Region dressed in a plain white T-shirt and faded blue jeans, a welcoming smile on his neatly bearded face.

It has been 10 years since Rinaldi, 38, made headlines when he became one of the biggest single lottery winners in Canadian history. In October 2008, he went from being a 28-year-old hot rod nut with a small business to  having $35.3 million, tax free, in his bank account, courtesy of a Lotto 6/49 jackpot.

There is an undeniable global fascination with lotto winners who hit it large, and what comes after for them. Type “lottery winners who …” into Google and it spits back “went broke … lost it all … are still rich … blew it all … died.” Try searching Google Scholar, and you’ll see no shortage of academic studies examining everything from whether living next door to a winner bankrupts neighbours who try to keep up with the newly wealthy Joneses, to whether winning makes people inegalitarian.

On the latter, Rinaldi did not turn out that way. Not at all. Thanks to good friends, good advice, good investments, he grew his money, and gives significant chunks of it to charities.

His most recent gift of $500,000 to Ryerson University’s Rams Care camp program will mean more kids from priority neighbourhoods will be able to experience university life and mentoring from athletes at the newly named Rinaldi Family Kids-to-Camp program.

“There’s nothing cooler than seeing a young kid having fun,” Rinaldi says at one point over the course of a rainy couple of hours inside his beautifully finished home and adjacent hot rod car shop.

Giving, he says, is one of the things that has brought him happiness along a 10-year journey to find out what makes him happy — one that began with that windfall moment, which has not turned out nearly as well for others who win large.

Here is how he did it.

So, a single, 28-year-old car nut hits the jackpot and says he’ll buy a brand new 2009 Corvette and hit Las Vegas. His mom jokes to reporters that any woman coming his way will have to make it by the “pit crew” — the women in the family. Yes, he would keep on going to work, he says.

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