Inside the crowded arena in Inverness, N.S., as people inched toward ticket booths to hand over their cash and grasp those colourful, coveted tickets, a single, hopeful thought drove them — they could have the winning ticket.

The scene will repeat itself this Saturday for the final time. Organizers are expecting to sell about 864,000 tickets and the first winning ticket-holder will have a chance to choose the ace of spades out of five cards left in the deck.

If that person doesn't draw it, another ticket-holder will be called — on and on until the ace is chased.

Proceeds go to the Inverness Cottage Workshop, a charity for people with disabilities, and the Inverness chapter of the Royal Canadian Legion. The Cottage Workshop plans to use the funds for a new facility.

It would seem this weekend's odds at winning are slightly better than previous weeks. But mathematically, the chances are slim according to Danielle Cox, an assistant math professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax.

Chase the Ace 7

After tickets were bought, they headed here, to the arena where the draw took place. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

Cox said there is a probability of one in 4.3 million that a ticket-holder would be the first to have their ticket drawn, and also draw the ace.

If the first fails to pull the ace, the chances get better.  

"In that scenario, the chance that the second person gets chosen and then gets the ace of spades would be about one in 3.4 million," said Cox.

If the ace continues to elude ticket-holders until there is just one card left, the odds of becoming a millionaire shrink to one in 862,966.

"This is also assuming people are just buying a single ticket. They are probably buying them in bundles," said Cox.

'Someone's got to win'

The odds may be slim, but they're still better than conventional lotteries such as Lotto 6/49, where there's a one-in-14 million chance. That means you're 10 times less likely to win that than you are Chase the Ace. 

"It's a long shot," Cox said. "But someone's got to win."

That person will take home an anticipated jackpot of about $1.5 million. The event's organizers have said they couldn't have predicted the fundraiser's wild success. In fact, Inverness's Chase the Ace has already defied the odds.  

"The probability we'd get down to five cards left and still haven't pulled that ace of spades — it's about a 7.7 per cent chance that we'd get to that point," Cox said.

CBC News will livestream this weekend's Chase the Ace draw. Head to cbc.ca/ns at 6 p.m. AT on Saturday to catch the action.