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Lifelong Island pals win $19.8M lottery prize

Did you hear the one about the longshoreman from Port Alberni and the electrician from Nanaimo? The lifelong pals just won nearly $20 million in Wednesday’s Lotto 6/49, where the odds of winning a jackpot are about one in 14 million.
Winners
John Prpich from Port Alberni and David Dubbin from Nanaimo are childhood friends who have been buying lottery tickets together for more than 30 years.

Did you hear the one about the longshoreman from Port Alberni and the electrician from Nanaimo? The lifelong pals just won nearly $20 million in Wednesday’s Lotto 6/49, where the odds of winning a jackpot are about one in 14 million.

John Prpich, of Port Alberni, and David Dubbin, of Nanaimo, are sharing the $19.8-million pot as they look forward to retirement.

“I was in the bathroom and my wife was on the computer and said: ‘Someone in Nanaimo won,’ ” Dubbin said.

“I looked at my wife and asked if I was dreaming.”

He called Prpich right away.

“At first I was like — it’s 5:30 in the morning,” Prpich said. “And then all I thought was: ‘What an honest friend.’

“I was just glad to tell my kids. Now my kids are going to be OK.”

The win follows 30 years of playing the lottery together.

The B.C. Lottery Corp. said the winners’ plans include new vehicles, homes and travel.

Dubbin, a golfer, said he has always wanted to visit Thailand. “I hear the golf courses there are fantastic. And now I can fly first class.”

Prpich said: “My wife loves to travel and I want to go back to Australia.”

As for the immediate future, Prpich said he might go to work a few more times, “just for bragging rights.”

Friends are thrilled for the pair. Randy Shaw has co-owned Shaw Electrical Services Ltd. of Nanaimo with Dubbin for 14 years. They had worked together for another employer and decided to strike out on their own.

“Dave was planning to retire,” he said, adding with a laugh that the win “makes that a little easier now.”

He describes Dubbin as a friendly person and a “good partner. … We are all excited for him.”

Shaw said that Dubbin plays Keno (another game involving numbers on cards) and has won a couple of hundred dollars or $1,000 on occasion, which was exciting.

Mike Hooper, president and chief executive of the Nanaimo Airport, knows Dubbin because the facility has used Shaw Electrical Services.

“It just couldn’t happen to a nicer person,” Hooper said.

“He’s always been a cornerstone for the work that happens at the airport from the electrical side. He is a No. 1 gentleman.”

Port Alberni Coun. Ron Paulson has known the men, who grew up in Port Alberni, for decades through their shared love of hockey.

“Johnny is a very close and dear friend of mine,” he said.

Prpich and Dubbin played junior hockey together, moving to senior hockey, which is how they got to know Paulson. “We were all teammates. … We played a number of years together,” he said.

They all participated in old-timers hockey too, said Paulson, who is the president and governor of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

“I do not believe that this will change their personalities one iota because they are both strong, salt-of-the-earth kind of people,” he said.

“They are great guys. They are team players and I know that this will make a difference in their lives. I’m so happy for them.”

cjwilson@timescolonist.con