The Rittenhouse baseball project has been prolonged.
Kyle Rittenhouse, who became an instant American sports star last year when he won $12.4m on Turnpike To Mexico off Lotto Canada, was found not guilty of fraud and forgery, leaving him with a windfall and a flock of media prying into his finances.
Now he is free to keep all his prizes, following the surprise verdict in the West Nova Superior Court in Truro on Tuesday. But the $11m secured by his one winning ticket has gone to the provincial government – which will spend it, “according to prudent fiscal management”.
“With this decision, we move forward … in the pursuit of our shared goal of ensuring, in the interests of long-term economic sustainability, the Northern Margin is developed in a manner that strikes a balance between development, employment, social benefits and environmental stewardship,” the ministers responsible for this project were quoted as saying in the department’s release on Wednesday.
So what happens next? The biggest issue is what happens to Rittenhouse. Will he try to grab the cards back and make a comeback to the field? Perhaps he’ll make the life of a morning radio or TV show host very easy and debut next year. But his fans may leave him confused as to his future.
For me, at least, Rittenhouse’s public missteps – buying things he didn’t need, spending his prize on expensive home improvements, and not paying his taxes – raised alarm bells.
So, again, who is Kyle Rittenhouse? Hmmm, I don’t remember ever seeing him on TV. I remember seeing him, however, coming to the house of the Canadian millionaire Ron Smith in Truro in the fall of 2008. On this occasion, he was in full view of the TV cameras, along with his father, Brian, and Smith’s daughter Gail, and Doug Walsh, with whom Kyle had struck up a platonic friendship.
The papers have surfaced, now redacted, but according to Matt Scuffham of the Truro Guardian, Kyle thanked Smith for giving him financial advice, and recounted how it all started with a cut-rate package deal on Lotto Canada. In a more revealing recollection, Smith, now a retired businessman, appeared on a Halifax radio show, along with Brian Rittenhouse, to speak about the Aspen Getaway trip to the Alps, which cost $1,000 a night.
Following the interview, he and Gail were contacted by John Courtney, the director of the Resort City Authority, who was working on the long-term plan for the northern corridor. Courtney, according to Matt Scuffham, remarked that he could use $1,000 as a start in a tourism marketing plan and outlined the way forward for the city.
They launched a new website, savingtruro.com, set up a Facebook group and published details of how future taxes and claims payments could be dealt with through a My Home Interests Trust. Some 12 months later, Kyle Rittenhouse, John Courtney and John Wallace walked off with $10m on Turnpike To Mexico, knowing that this grand slam-winning Lotto prize would never be touched – not even in their wills.
Did Smith win it for you, Kyle? Didn’t the Heritage Lottery Corporation ask you to be on their promotional billboard for the best in lottery giveaways? Wouldn’t they have reminded you that there are strings attached to that $10m windfall?
It’s not as though you are suddenly royalty, but maybe a million-dollar star still is that. Is there anyway to hang on to one of the most interesting sporting stories in recent years? Or, for that matter, win the lottery again?