How a POKER LOTTO win kickstarts this father of two’s writing career

Image Source: Moczulski for Postmedia News True Story on behalf of Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

It was Shawn Barry Farewell’s day off, and he was running an errand. He didn’t have plans to stop anywhere but as he was going past the convenience store where he normally stopped off on his courier route to play ‘Poker Lotto’, a voice in his head told him to turn left. The 56-year-old dad of two opted to add ALL IN to his Poker Lotto play and those $3 resulted in a pair of aces, winning a free $2 ticket. The clerk asked Shawn if he wanted to add ALL IN again for $1 and a chance at the jackpot. He instantly said yes.

He stands there not even paying attention to the screen, and then sees he’s one card away from the royal flush. The screen lights up. He turns back and says to this guy, ‘Are you seeing what I’m seeing?’ to which the guy just congratulates him. Shawn pinches himself to see if all this is even real. He walks outside, gets in his car, and immediately texts his son Ryan with a picture of the ticket with the message “I just won $75,000 on POKER LOTTO ALL IN!”

Ryan responds: “YOU DID IT” and then: “Now you can get your book going!”

This reply was a testament to their close relationship and how well the duo knew each other – because that’s exactly what Shawn did with his winnings.

Back when Shawn’s kids were young, he’d begun telling them bedtime stories each night. As the kids got older, story time gradually faded. And life happened along the way – Shawn survived cancer. One of these days when Ryan was 13, they were sitting together in the family car and to cheer his dad up, Ryan reminded him of the stories he used to tell, and suggested he’d write them down. Shawn did just that, eventually writing 20 children’s books based on his kids’ childhood adventures.

The books sat unpublished until recently. As soon as Shawn received his lottery winnings, he found himself a publisher and got to work. The first book in his Adventure Closet series, Land of the Dinosaurs, comes out this October, to be followed by the other 19 – plus another 10 and maybe more. He also plans to write a memoir soon.

Did he go a little crazy with his winnings? Well, a little. Shawn made a few fun purchases for himself and his kids when he collected his winnings, paid his own bills, took care of repairs on his 10-year-old car, bought himself a bicycle, but he set most of the money aside for his books.

When Ryan got to know about Shawn’s lottery win, he was elated and over the moon. He viewed it as the culmination of his father’s many struggles over the years. He believes there’s a right time for everything. If he had won this money even five years ago, it might not have been right or just.

Shawn had the same feelings about his win as well. He felt that the universe opened a new door for him to walk right through it, “This is how the universe works. It knows when you’re not ready, but when you are, it opens that door for you. Just like in my books, it’s a magical gateway. You have to go through that gateway to start the journey.”

And sometimes the journey begins with one left turn.


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