'My first reaction was bingo!': Chase the Ace winner recalls exciting night

An Inuvik woman is almost $320,000 richer, and the Yellowknife Fastball League $500,000 closer to its field of dreams, after Darlene Allen pulled the ace of spades last Friday in Yellowknife.

Inuvik's Darlene Allen picks up her Chase the Ace winnings in Yellowknife

Inuvik's Darlene Allen clutches her 'lucky bag' near the Tommy Forrest Ball Park in Yellowknife. She brought the bag with her from Inuvik just hours before her big win. She intended to return home with the bagged stuffed with winnings. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

An Inuvik woman says she'll split almost $320,000 with family after winning Yellowknife's latest Chase the Ace fundraiser.

Darlene Allen won $319,296 for drawing the ace of spades at the Monkey Tree Pub on Friday.

That includes $276,706 for the rolling jackpot and $42,590 for the nightly prize.

For the past several weeks, people have crammed into local bars on Friday nights to buy $5 tickets in support of the Yellowknife Fastball League.

Every week, a single ticket was chosen in a classic 50-50 draw. The person holding that ticket then had the chance to pull from a deck of cards.

If they pulled the ace of spades, they'd win the jackpot. If not, the fundraiser would continue until someone pulled it from the diminishing deck of cards.

Half the proceeds from every Friday went to the Yellowknife Fastball League, 25 per cent went to that night's winner, if the ace wasn't pulled, and the remaining 25 per cent went to the rolling jackpot.

Only 10 cards were remaining by the time Allen pulled the ace on Friday.

Yellowknife Fastball League board member Mike Auge, right, presents the Chase the Ace jackpot prize cheque for $276,706 to Inuvik's Darlene Allen. Allen claimed a further $42,590 as the nightly prize for her pick. (Yellowknife Fastball League)

Brought a new lucky bag

Allen says she's never won a prize of this magnitude before. But that doesn't mean she was at a loss for words when her number was called at the Yellowknife Elks Lodge.

"My first reaction was 'bingo!'", Allen said.

Allen then made her way to the Monkey Tree where she picked the ace.

Allen flew down from Inuvik mere hours before the draw. Before leaving, she told friends and family she'd be coming back with the jackpot in a brand new, lucky bag.

"I said, 'this is a brand new bag and I'm taking it with me to Yellowknife and it's going to carry $240,000.'"

Allen plans on splitting her winnings with family, adding that it might be time to buy a new boat.

'We never really expected it to get this high'

The Yellowknife Fastball League is also celebrating Allen's big win.

Board member Mike Auge says exact figures have yet to be calculated, but that the fundraiser brought in over $500,000 for the league.

"We're really thankful to everyone who participated and helped this become such a great fundraiser for us," he told CBC.

"I'm my wildest dreams, I could see it getting big but I really didn't expect it to get as big as it did."

The league will use the money to completely revitalize the Tommy Forrest Ball Park on Franklin Avenue.

Auge says that includes replacing the backstop, bleachers, fencing and dugouts. The league has also ordered a new scoreboard and hopes to make the park more family-oriented by installing a new playground.

"Two years ago now when we really started doing some fundraising for this, we had a big list of things we eventually wanted to get done," said Auge.

"Now, everything on that list becomes short-term projects instead of five to 10 years in the future."