FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s biggest annual guessing game comes with a record jackpot this year of more than $363,000, but the prize will be divvied up among many this time around.
At least 24 winning tickets have been counted so far in this year’s Nenana Ice Classic, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. The goal of the contest is to guess exactly when the ice will give way on the Tanana River in the tiny community of Nenana, about 55 miles south of Fairbanks. Each guess takes a $2.50 ticket.
The ice broke up Friday at 3:48 p.m. Alaska Standard Time.
This year’s jackpot of $363,627 is the largest in the classic’s 98-year history. But it’s not a record number of winning tickets, whose number could rise as they continue being counted this week.
There were a record 58 winning tickets in 1973, according to ice classic manager Cherrie Forness. In 2005, there were 46 winning tickets, 29 winning tickets in 1950 and 25 winning tickets in 1984.
More than 300,000 tickets were sold this year, and thousands remain to be counted. Forness said it could take about a week before the total number of winners is announced.
“Each ticket is compared to what’s on the computer printout and if there are any corrections that need to be made it goes back for corrections and then it’s checked again,” Forness said. “It’s a long process.”
The popular game draws entries from across the state and elsewhere.