Chase the Ace in Sydney jackpot reaches $223K, remains unclaimed
Organizers expect next week's draw will reach $325,000 as Port Morien man fails to draw winning card
It hasn't hit the frenzy stage yet, but another big Chase the Ace jackpot is building in Cape Breton and the jackpot has remained unclaimed for yet another week.
At a draw Saturday night in Sydney the jackpot reached $223,000. Organizers told the crowd the day's ticket sales brought in about $164,000.
A Port Morien man's ticket was drawn and he pulled a queen of spades, taking home $49,251 — but not the jackpot.
Organizers said next week's draw is estimated to be about $325,000.
Four halls were set up around Sydney to accommodate the crowds. About 4,000 people were expected to attend, with thousands more watching the live stream from home.
Tickets were on sale from 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at four venues: Horizon Achievement Centre, Ashby Legion Branch 138, St. Theresa's Parish Hall and the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion.
The draw was held at about 6:30 p.m.
Last October, the final Chase the Ace draw in Inverness attracted nearly 20,000 people for the $1.8 million jackpot.
Chase the Ace is like a 50-50 draw. But instead of winning half the value of the ticket sales, the winning ticket holder receives a smaller cut and a chance to draw the ace of spades from a deck of regular playing cards to win the jackpot.
Stephen Tobin is the business development manager for the Horizon Achievement Centre, one of the two organizations behind the lottery. He attended several of the draws last fall in Inverness, and witnessed both the excitement and the crowds.
"One valuable lesson we've learned is, that certainly once the jackpot reaches that $100,000 mark, it really is the turning point," he said. "I think that's when people really start to sit up and pay attention."
Tobin said organizers took extra steps to make sure they're ready for a big turnout.
The Horizon Achievement Centre, which provides job training for people with intellectual disabilities, helped staple and bundle tickets for this weekend's draw.
14 cards now left in the deck
Because the ace of spades wasn't drawn, another draw will be held next week with 14 cards left in the deck.
Last year's Chase the Ace phenomenon in Inverness spawned a number of similar events in Cape Breton.
In Prince Edward Island, organizers of a Chase the Ace started a drive-thru for ticket sales to keep up with the demand.
Tobin said it's about more than a chance at a jackpot.
"I think there's a huge social factor here. People look to it as a great opportunity to get out and socialize with friends and neighbours. At the same time, I think people also really appreciate the charitable component," he said.
"Not only do you have a chance to win a substantial amount of money, but if you don't, you're still helping out a great cause."
Proceeds from the draw will be split between the Ashby Legion and the Horizon Achievement Centre. The centre is raising money for a new building.
With files from Elizabeth McMillan