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This article was published 28/11/2018 (324 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
By the time pastor Chris Haley learned late Saturday he'd won $1 million because Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine had scored five goals in a single NHL game, he'd already written his sermon for the next morning.
The topic was money.
"Oddly enough, I was all prepared. The sermon was on money. The love of money is the root of all evil. You can't fall in love with it," Haley said Wednesday at media event at the Safeway River East store on Henderson Highway where he and his wife, Karen, do most of their grocery shopping.
Haley won the Sobeys Safeway Score & Win contest that pays out $1 million if a Jets player scores five or more goals in a single game. The grocery giant's customers are automatically entered into the contest with a swipe of their Air Miles card. The name of one shopper eligible for a prize is drawn before each regular-season and playoff NHL game.
The contest also pays out $100,000 if a Jets player scores four goals in a game — Haley's total winnings will be $1.1 million — and he will also receive $1,000 in Sobeys Safeway gift cards for the hat trick (three goals).
Needless to say, his first purchase won't be a sports car: the first thing the couple plans to buy is new glasses. And don't go calling Haley the "millionaire pastor" — the money will paid out in $50,000 instalments over 20 years.
"I'm not a millionaire yet," he said.
Haley didn't watch the game — an 8-4 win in St. Louis over the Blues — so there was none of the tension and drama of seeing the goals pile up one by one. He was attending a church event, of course.
When he looked at his cellphone and saw texts asking if he was the Chris Haley in the Score & Win contest being promoted during the TV broadcast, he texted back that he didn't think so.
When he got home, Karen asked if he had something he wanted to tell her: media had been leaving voice messages on their phone.
Shortly after 10 p.m., a contest representative phoned, checked to see if he had the matching Air Miles card number, and confirmed he had won. Haley later put the finishing touches on next day's sermon for Berean Baptist Church in North Kildonan.
He said he wasn't ready to talk publicly about the life-changing event, however. In part, he was having trouble believing it was real.
"My personality is, 'Don't go crazy. Just keep your feet on the floor.' My wife and I have talked a lot about that the last couple of days. Just keep on keeping on. Let's not go off the deep end."
Haley works a full-time job by day, and spends nights and weekends doing pastor work — "It's a small church, and they couldn't afford to pay me a salary" — and rarely has time to watch a Jets game. He said he is more likely to listen to the broadcasts on his car radio while travelling between church meetings.
Haley was invited to attend the Jets-Pittsburgh Penguins game Tuesday at Bell MTS Place, and said he was touched by a pre-game meeting with Laine's mother. "She came up and she was hugging my wife and she was crying. She was such a sweet lady."
He also got to meet Laine after the game, and thanked him. ("He just said he was thankful to be a part of it," Haley said.)
On Wednesday, Haley said: "I'd like to thank God for this. I know some people might not appreciate that, but I'm a pastor and I believe this is a gift from God."
TSN broadcaster Gord Miller emceed the event, pointing out not only did Laine score five goals but he accomplished the feat in the minimum five shots — something that hasn't happened since NHL legend Wayne Gretzky did the same in 1984.
Haley was handed a giant, cardboard $1.1-million cheque at the ceremony.
"For a grocery retailer, it feels like the Stanley Cup for me," said Scott Chollak, Sobeys Safeway vice-president of retail operations.
Bill Redekop has been covering rural issues since 2001.
Updated on Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 6:10 AM CST: Corrects typo