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Joe Burke, who works at Cameron's Building Supplies in Glace Bay, keeps a 50-50 tin on the counter of the store. (Yvonne Leblanc-Smith/CBC)

A man from North Sydney got a surprise this week when he won nearly $80,000 in the Glace Bay Minor Hockey Association's annual 50-50 fundraiser.

The association said the draw — now in its 18th year — sold a record 158,607 tickets this year.

"Everybody seems to know that the Christmas draw is a little bigger and they want in on it," said Tracey Hanrahan, the office manager for the Glace Bay Minor Hockey Association.

The $160,000 raised from the 50-50 tickets — half of which will go to the hockey association — mean most of the 600 minor hockey players in the group don't have to pay a registration fee to play. The Christmas draw, which is the biggest, also pays for ice time, insurance and referees.

On average, the weekly draws bring in between $20,000 and $30,000.

Hanrahan credits the volunteers and parents for the success of this year's Christmas fundraiser.

"It's just their buy-in. They understand that if they want their registration to be lower than everywhere else they have to sell these tickets and if they want their child to play hockey, every child in Glace Bay can play hockey if you want to sell tickets," she said.

"It can all be paid for so I think that they understand that and they get that and so they do the work and they sell the tickets."

Joe Burke, who works at Cameron's Building Supplies in Glace Bay, said he sells the tickets so his grandchildren can play hockey.

"If they weren't raising money this way many of the families, I don't think, would have their children in minor hockey if they have to pay ice rentals and referee fees and everything else that's involved," said Burke, who encourages people to put money toward the 50-50 in a Quality Street candy tin on his counter.