The small New Brunswick town of Beresford is now home to overnight multi-millionaires, as a couple from the area became the recipients of the largest-known Chase the Ace prize in Canadian history after winning $8.2 million on Tuesday night.
René Beaudet, the organizer for Chaleur ATV Club Chase the Ace — which has hosted a weekly draw in Petit-Rocher since the raffle began in February 2023 — said Danny and Murielle Robbins laid claim to the record-setting jackpot after selecting an ace of hearts out of the game’s remaining five cards.
“It was the most exciting thing in the world,” Beaudet said, adding about 730,000 tickets were sold throughout the past week in anticipation of this most recent draw.
As more than 11 months passed and the grand jackpot remained unselected, the consolation prizes for previously weekly winners continued to increase along with ticket sales — as last week’s winner received about $435,000.
Each week, the previous winner is blindfolded and then tasked with selecting a winning ticket at random. After the ticket is chosen, organizers phone the individual and notify them of their winning prize.
“We told him (Danny) he had won at least a $488,000 consolation prize, so we asked him to pick a number from one to five, whichever envelope he wanted. His wife said she was going to pick number three and then finally she said, ‘I don’t want to take the chance, you decide in case I don’t pick the right one.’” Beaudet explained.
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Fortunately for the Robbins’ family, their hesitation paid off.
“He decided on envelope number two and once we opened it, it was the ace of hearts. So, then we announced to him that he was automatically a millionaire.”
The total amount won was $8,224,080.00, according to a Facebook post from the organizers.
“Many congratulations to both of you,” reads a Facebook post from the Chaleur ATV Club, adding that a celebration will be held for the winners in the coming days.
Beaudet said about 150 people were present at the hall in Petit-Rocher on Tuesday night, about 15 minutes away from the Beresford area, to greet the couple upon their arrival to the hall where the draw was held.
“At first, it was really funny because Mr. Robbins said, ‘I don’t think I can drive my car, I’m so nervous’, but finally we convinced them to take a drive up,” Beaudet noted. “She’s a former employee from the UNI bank and he’s still working for Purolator, so it’s really going to change their life for sure.”
“We were very happy because we could have gotten winners from the states, Toronto, Nova Scotia, because we had tickets that were being bought everywhere. But by coincidence, the ticket was won right here by my next-door neighbour practically, so, it was quite a thrill.”
Beaudet, who also serves as the president of the Friends of Healthcare Foundation in New Brunswick, said half of the money from ticket sales will go toward supporting the charitable healthcare organization along with improving the conditions of ATV trails in the province.
He said he needed to recruit about 35 volunteers to sort through and package about 2.7 million tickets that were sold throughout the last week.
“Once it (the ticket) came out, I felt a big relief, a weight off my shoulders. I realized it’s over now, we had a great time, we’re making good money for the various groups of people who wanted to help,” he said, adding that local retailers also benefited from the skyrocketing ticket sales as they retained a five per cent commission from every purchase.
Beaudet said some New Brunswick stores managed to sell more than $400,000 worth of tickets in the past week.
Following the 49-week search for a grand prize winner, Beaudet said he still plans to launch another Chase the Ace fundraiser in the future, but that’s not before all the volunteers and store employees involved throughout the last year enjoy themselves a well-deserved rest.
“We had about 40 volunteers, and they all had to take a break. We’re certainly going to be looking at another one, but it won’t be before spring,” he said.
“We enjoy doing what we do, and we enjoy giving money to various good causes.”
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