A Canadian man whose fortunes changed overnight two years ago when he went from being laid off to becoming a multimillionaire has died in Ethiopia, Global Affairs Canada has confirmed.
Michael Gebru, 41, died under mysterious circumstances in his home country, his cousin Sosuna Asefaw told CBC News.
In 2017 Gebru, who had recently been laid off at an assembly plant, checked a lottery ticket, thinking he’d won about $14. But he’d actually won $10.7 million.
“I’ve always said that if I won the lottery, I’d help people in need,” the Scarborough, Ont., man told CBC News at the time.
That’s precisely what he did, his cousin told CBC News. Ever since winning, Gebru had travelled between Toronto and Ethiopia, hoping to make a difference with his newfound wealth.
“Going back home, he just wanted to do more for our country,” Asefaw said.
Asefaw says Gebru had just flown to Ethiopia a couple of weeks ago and had been visiting the area where he grew up, when something went awry.
The circumstances of Gebru’s death are still being investigated, she says, but the family has heard that he was killed Saturday night.
The family is appealing to the Canadian Embassy in Ethiopia for help, saying they’ve heard little from local police.
“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Asefaw said. “Everyone knew who he was in Toronto and everyone knew back home, because it’s a big thing … He didn’t grow up with much.”
In a statement to CBC News, Global Affairs Canada said, “Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family of a Canadian citizen who died in Ethiopia. Consular services are being provided to the family.”
Spokesperson Angela Savard said the department could not provide further information, citing the Privacy Act.