Matt Smith drove up to Bridgetown and gave away almost $30,000 to a woman from Waterville March 21.
He’s getting used to handing out big cheques ever since he headed up the Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department’s Chase the Ace fundraiser more than a year ago.
The March 20 ticket draw saw Debbie Reid’s number picked out of a fish tub packed with almost 150,000 other tickets. But when she went to choose from the four cards left in the deck, she got the right suit but the wrong number, pulling up the five of spades instead of the ace.
But it earned her that $30,000. Hardly chump change.
“Presenting money like that to people is a great feeling,” said Smith. “The fire department is raising a tremendous amount of money and the fact that we get to give such a great amount back is fantastic.”
He’s given away $175,000 so far, with the March 20 prize the largest yet.
The March 20 draw at 9:15 p.m. was in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department hall, with another 3,100 watching on Facebook Live. Among the online viewers was Reid. When her ticket was drawn, Smith called her and she picked her card from a row of four dealt out on a table by firefighter Alex Cranton.
By The Numbers
Had Reid picked the ace, she would have won an additional $263,044 for a take of $292,893.
The numbers for this fire department fundraiser seem to grow exponentially each week. The estimated jackpot for the March 20 draw was $255,000. It turned out to be $263,044. Ticket sales jumped from almost $114,000 to $149,245. And 30 per cent of ticket sales go into the jackpot, so for the March 20 draw that was $44,773 based on the $149, 245 in sales.
But the big number is the estimated jackpot for the April 3 draw. Smith announced that at the end of the March 20 activities. A staggering $307,000.
The April 3 draw will be Week 50 with only three cards left in the deck. And people will be watching from across North America. The Facebook Live feed March 20 attracted viewers from various Alberta locations, Ontario, Saskatchewan, PEI, and numerous Nova Scotia communities from Cape Breton to Clare. Kentville’s Ryan Sparks was watching all the way from Las Vegas.
The big and growing crowd at the fire hall has prompted firefighters to ask the Annapolis Royal Legion to open for the April 3 draw for ticket sales and where people can watch the live feed coming in from the fire hall.
“We have seen enough of an increase that we are going to ask the Annapolis Legion to open next draw,” Smith said. “We are seeing new faces every week which is great. We feel like, as this winds down, more people will want to be present in he case that their name is drawn.”
Smith said the fire department is grateful for the crowds that have been showing up on draw nights.
“They’re very supportive and full of positive comments,” he said. “Makes the work that we are putting in all worth it.”
Tickets can be bought at Tom’s Pizzeria in Lequille, Lequille Country Store, Annapolis Royal Home Hardware, Double D Convenience Store in Granville Ferry, Crows Nest Dining in Hillsburn, Josie’s in Digby, and Nob’s Farm Market in Bridgetown. The fire hall will be open for ticket sales on April 3 from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. There are no online ticket sales.