Coronavirus fears shrink jackpot for Alaska’s guessing game
NENANA, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s favorite guessing game has taken a hit because of the coronavirus.
There were five entries that correctly guessed that a tripod set up on the frozen Tanana River in Nenana, Alaska, would tip over at 12: 56 p.m. on Monday, April 27, as ice broke up in the spring thaw.
This year’s jackpot was $125,000, Nenana Ice Classic Manager Cherrie Forness said. That’s way below last year’s jackpot of $311,000, and she said it’s because people didn’t want to venture away from home to buy entries at businesses across the state over fears of the virus.
“A lot of people wouldn’t, couldn’t get out, and I don’t blame them for not wanting to,” she said Friday.
The five winners include Tony Cowley of Sutton, Jennifer DeGuzman of Anchorage, Marie Nichols of Cordova, Kyle Gardner of Anchorage and a group called Wrestlers United Pool of Kenai and Dillingham.
Each ticket is worth a fifth of the jackpot, minus 20 percent for federal withholdings. That means each will receive $18,000.
Residents since 1917 have purchased tickets, this year costing $2.50 each, recording guesses of the exact day and time when the melting ice would separate and cause the marker to fall. The event began as a bet among railroad engineers and has paid out more than $14 million in its history.