Sydney Chase the Ace error creates 2 winners, jackpot still in play

There was some drama and confusion Saturday night when two people came forward with a winning ticket number but the jackpot wasn't claimed.

Winners didn't have to split draw money

From left to right: Mike Bartlett and Stephen Tobin of Horizon Achievement Centre, winners Angie Willems and Marie Matthys, and John MacInnis of Ashby Legion Branch 138. (Facebook)

There was a little drama and confusion at the Chase the Ace draw in Sydney Saturday night as two ticket holders produced the winning number but neither walked away with the approximately $1.1 million jackpot. 

Angie Willems of Scotchtown and Marie Matthys of River Ryan both came forward to claim their chance to draw the ace. It was determined they had duplicate tickets, due to a printing error.

Organizers took the two women aside and decided both tickets were legitimate.

Because they didn't draw the ace, they each went home with $229,230, the amount that was set aside for the winning ticket prize. 

Stephen Tobin, the business development manager with the Horizon Achievement Centre, said duplicate tickets were ordered and sold. 

"When you're dealing with with millions of dollars worth of tickets, managed by hundreds of volunteers, the potential exists for mistakes to happen," he said. "The odds were quite slim, but it comes down to due diligence."

Preventing future duplicate winners 

In the end, the charities hosting the event decided to forego their profits for the night and both people who bought a winning strip would get the same cash prize as opposed to splitting the amount originally reserved for the draw.

 "While it was a very tough decision, I think people also came to appreciate the fact that it was the right decision," Tobin said. 

Organizers have already printed, bundled and prepared the equivalent of $2 million dollars worth of tickets for future weekends. Each individual ticket sells for $1 and are bought in strips of five or more.

Tobin says organizers are meeting with Nova Scotia Alcohol and Gaming officials Monday morning to talk about how to prevent similar problems in the future, They'll also be working with the company that sells the tickets to ensure there's no duplication, he says. 

Ace of spades still out there

Willems and Mattys ended up drawing the eight of hearts, which means the jackpot is left to grow another week. 

Sydney's Chase the Ace event is a fundraiser for the Ashby legion and the Horizon Achievement Centre, an organization that provides training and employment services for adults with mental disabilities. 

Tobin says people bought $780,000 worth of tickets Saturday. He estimates between 6,000 and 7,000 people watched the draw in person from the seven locations across the municipality.

Organizers estimate the grand prize could be more than $1.3 million next weekend.

They're considering adding more venues and security to monitor the prize money and the crowds, which Tobin says are growing every weekend. 


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