The Rainy River Regional Abattoir committee will be taking a break with its “Catch the Ace” progressive raffle for a few months after the grand prize jackpot was won Friday night.
Richard Norman of Alberton was the lucky winner in the draw held at the Emo Legion. His ticket was drawn and he had selected envelope #17—which ended up containing the ace of spades.
Norman won the weekly prize of $1,340 plus the grand prize jackpot of $20,321—a total of $21,661.
Norman told the Times on Monday afternoon that he was “kind of shocked” when he found out he won.
“I've never won anything before,” he remarked.
Norman noted he had started buying “Catch the Ace” tickets fairly recently.
“I had just started working at John Gavel Manufacturing in Emo and I bought some tickets from one of the ladies that works there in the office,” he recalled.
“I said, 'I'll buy a book but you guys have to fill it out, the numbers and what have you, because it's too much writing for me. And if we win, then we'll split it amongst us,'” Norman added.
“I think this was the third week or fourth week I bought them, and I lucked out the other night.”
Norman said the winning number—17—was picked by John Gavel.
“That's his jersey number for hockey. It's Wendel Clark's. He's a Toronto fan,” Norman explained.
"We were trying to figure a number out and he [Gavel] said, '17.' And I said, 'Okay, 17 it is.'
“That's how it came about.”
Norman said he plans to split the winnings as promised.
“I guarantee you, if I wouldn't have said that, I wouldn't have won,” he chuckled.
As for his share, Norman said he'll just use to it to “pay the bills.”
“Catch the Ace" committee member Kim Jo Bliss, who was present at the raffle draw Friday evening, said she had a feeling all week that the ticket drawn would result in the ace being "caught.”
“I don't know why," she admitted. ”And when I saw it was #17, I thought, 'Yep, that's the one.'
“I don't know why,” she reiterated.
Bliss said the committee—and patrons at the Legion—were excited to see Norman win.
But she also admitted she and many others were looking forward to the prospect of having a final round, during which they would “draw down” tickets until the ace was found.
As explained in last week's Times, 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.
If no one were to “catch the ace” in the next six weeks or so, organizers would have to hold a final round where a ticket will be drawn as normal.
If that first ticket drawn did not guess the envelope with the ace in it, it still would earn its owner the weekly prize.
Organizers then would keep drawing until a lucky person's ticket guessed the number of the envelope the ace was in and they would get the grand prize pot.
Nonetheless, having a grand prize winner get more than $20,000 was exciting, Bliss said.
“When we started this, one of our goals was to see the pot build and hopefully we could give somebody $20,000 or $25,000. We did that,” she noted.
"And Richard's a good guy.
“It's kind of like when Christmas is over—you're happy but you're sad,” Bliss added.
Now that the jackpot has been won, Bliss said organizers likely will hold off until at least April before starting up “Catch the Ace” again.
She explained the committee is very small and that running “Catch the Ace” takes considerable time and effort—a big job for only three or four people.
“It's a busy time of the year for me and it's a pretty big commitment," she remarked. "And it was getting bigger because of the amount of tickets we had to keep track of.”
Bliss added she was grateful for the help from her parents, Tony and Louise Bliss.
“I would like to take a break and maybe start up again at 'Spring Fever Days' or something like that,” Bliss said, noting the Rainy River Regional Abattoir board also has a full plate in the coming months.
She suggested the committee should look at another organization possibly pairing up with it to run “Catch the Ace” or taking over the reins altogether.
“It's a big commitment," she reiterated. ”I don't want to sound discouraging but it's a bigger commitment than most lotteries.
“But it's also pretty fun and now that people are really getting it, it's made the job a little easier,” added Bliss, noting committee members have had to spend quite a bit of time explaining to many people how the rules worked.
“If somebody else picks it up, somebody else picks it up," she reasoned. ”I feel like we live in a small enough community that we have got to work and support each other.
“I'd be happy to [give advice]," Bliss pledged. "There are things that can make it a bit easier.”
The “Catch the Ace” progressive raffle was in its 28th week—the longest it had ever run over five rounds without someone guessing the location of the ace.
The raffle first started in the spring of 2017.
Prior to Norman, the most recent grand prize winner had been Ed Carlson, who won $7,451.20 (this total included the weekly cash prize plus the pot) on Week 12 of Round 4.
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).