Merv Lupul was driving on the highway heading for Wolverine Mine in Tumbler Ridge to pick up a load of scrap metal Friday afternoon when his phone lit up.
Cell service was sporadic and the 57-year-old Prince George truck driver kept getting texts congratulating him. When he finally did get a phone connection it was his wife Raylene on the line breaking the news they had just won the grand prize in the 38th annual Spruce Kings Show Home Lottery.
“I wasn’t thinking about the draw at all,” Merv said. “I kept getting the text messages and a couple times Raylene tried to call and I thought the worst because we have a couple family members that aren’t well. Finally she got through, hysterically screaming, ‘We won,’ and I figured it out it was the house.”
Lupul was standing next to a co-worker helping him load his truck and they did what comes naturally, despite pandemic protocols.
“He heard me screaming and figured it out,” said Merv. “He gave me a hug, even though we’re not supposed to.”
The $730,000 show home at 2738 Links Dr., custom-built by Hopson Construction in the Aberdeen Glen subdivision, comes with all the furnishings and appliances.
The Lupuls live on an acreage in the Buckhorn area and haven’t decided whether they will live in their new digs. They have two children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild, most of whom live in the city, and some of them are already making plans for keeping their dream home in the family.
Merv works 60-70 hours a week for Allens’s Scrap Metal & Salvage and Raylene is manager of the Mark’s Work Wearhouse store in Spruceland Mall. The house win is a life-changer for both of them but neither is contemplating early retirement.
“We’re going to work until we fall over,” laughed Merv. “Maybe I’ll slow down a little but I can’t say that, I’m very dedicated to work and family. We work hard to keep the kids going and we spend a lot of time with them. We’ve lived in the country all our lives and it’s going to be quite a change, one way or another. We haven’t decided if we’re going to live in it, we flip-flop back and forth.”
All 11,000 tickets were sold in the lottery. The date of the draw was extended a month due to the pandemic, which allowed the community-owned BCHL hockey club an additional month to sell the remaining 500 tickets at $125 each. The lottery is the team’s biggest annual fundraiser, accounting for more than half the Spruce Kings’ operating budget. The Lupuls have been buying tickets for the house at least 10 years and this year bought ticket No. 5,989.
“It’s changing so many things, I can’t believe it’s real,” said Raylene.
“My daughter and grandkids came with me (to tour the house Friday) and I stood there and cried. I can’t believe this is my house, this is my stuff. It’s brand-new and I’ve never had a brand-new house. There’s so much room, it’s bright and beautiful.
“The kids are already telling me they’re coming for sleepovers and they’ve got the spot for the barbecue and everything.”
The Lupuls are dedicated Spruce Kings fans and used to take the entire family to games with the kids dressed in their pajamas. When Quesnel and Williams Lake were in the league they’d go to road games together as a family.
“We still go and still get the group package,” said Merv.
One other Spruce Kings draw Friday made it memorable day for Thomas Laity. He won $50,000 cash in the Kings Period 3 Mega 50/50 draw.