Forget the common cold and 'flu—Rainy River District has a severe case of “Catch the Ace” fever these days!
The fifth round of the Rainy River Regional Abattoir's progressive raffle now is in its 28th week, with the grand prize jackpot for this Friday's draw estimated at $20,000.
Tickets sales have been increasing each week, with some ticket-sellers running out well before the day of the draw.
“Who doesn't want to win $20,000?" said committee member Kim Jo Bliss, referring to the rising popularity of "Catch the Ace” as the pot continues to grow.
Bliss noted organizers have increased the number of tickets printed from 2,800 last week to 3,400 this week as the demand grows.
This round of “Catch the Ace” started off with just 800 tickets being printed.
If no one chooses the envelope containing the ace of spades soon, organizers may have to end the raffle with a final round.
That's because the committee's lottery licence stipulates there is a cap on how much money can be paid out. In this case, the amount jackpot, plus the amount of money which already has been paid out to the weekly winners, must be kept under $50,000.
As of this week, the committee has paid out about $12,000 in weekly prizes. Together with the estimated grand prize jackpot of $20,000, this means they're up to around $32,000.
At this rate, if no one “catches the ace" in the next six weeks or so, organizers will have to hold a final raffle and "draw it down” until someone does, Bliss explained.
If that's the case, a ticket will be drawn as normal. If that first ticket drawn did not guess the envelope with the ace in it, it still will earn its owner the weekly prize.
Organizers then will keep drawing until a lucky person's ticket guesses the number of the envelope the ace is in and they'll get the grand prize pot.
Bliss said the “Catch the Ace” committee has been kept hopping since the raffle first started in the spring of 2017.
“It's a good fundraiser but you have to be really organized," she stressed, adding there's numerous lottery licence regulations to follow and volunteers always have to keep thinking a week ahead in case the ace is not "caught” during each draw.
There's also been a learning curve for the public, Bliss noted.
For those not aware, buying a $2 “Catch the Ace” ticket gives you a chance to be drawn for the weekly cash prize. And if you happened to also have picked the numbered envelope containing the ace of spades, you win the grand prize jackpot, as well.
Essentially, your ticket has to be drawn and you have to guess the right envelope in order to win the grand prize.
Twenty percent of the money made off ticket sales goes to the weekly winner while 30 percent goes into the jackpot and 50 percent goes towards a charity.
“I think everybody likes cash and now that everyone is catching on, it makes it that much easier,” Bliss said.
Bliss thanked the Fort Frances Times, which not only prints the “Catch the Ace” raffle tickets but is a major hub for ticket sales, for making the organizers' jobs easier.
“The Times' staff has been excellent in helping us," Bliss enthused. ”When we phone and say, 'Please! Can we have 400 more tickets,' they can make it work for us.
“It's been good.”
Last Friday's winner was Bill Bone, who chose envelope #32 that contained the jack of hearts, earning him the weekly cash prize of $1,100.
The local “Catch the Ace” raffle has had four grand prize winners since it began.
The most recent grand prize winner was Ed Carlson, who won $7,451.20 (this total included the weekly cash prize plus the pot) on Week 12 of Round 4 while the Round 3 winner was Gerry Allan, who won roughly $16,440 on Week 23.
He was preceded by Round 2 winner Kevin Lowe ($13,330.70 on Week 21) and Round 1 winner Linda Plumridge ($2,131 on Week 3)
This week's draw will take on Friday (Jan. 11) at 7 p.m. at the Emo Legion.
“Catch the Ace” tickets cost $2 each and are available at the Fort Frances Times, Badiuk Equipment, Devlin's, Emo Inn, Tompkins Home Hardware, Rainy River Meats, Village Variety, Stratton Service, JD Junction, Suzie's Hairstyling, Norlund Oil, Emo Legion, Barwick Restaurant, Hair & Body Care Shoppe, and Woods' Quality Bakery.
Proceeds go to district youth-centered ag programs, ag awareness, and 4-H programs.
More information on “Catch the Ace," including draw times/locations and a weekly video of the winning ticket being drawn, can be found on the "Catch the Ace” Facebook page.