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Aniak's Annie Morgan wins $21,747.50 Kuskokwim Ice Classic jackpot

Annie Morgan won the 2024 Kuskokwim Ice Classic jackpot with an exact guess of 8:40 a.m. on May 8, 2024.
Annie Morgan
Annie Morgan won the 2024 Kuskokwim Ice Classic jackpot with an exact guess of 8:40 a.m. on May 8, 2024.

Each year, the Kuskokwim Ice Classic fields thousands of guesses as to exactly when the tripod in front of Bethel will tip and fall as the river ice breaks down. Some years, the pot is split between winners who were closest to the time. But this year, there was just one winner.

Aniak resident Annie Morgan was in Wasilla, perusing sunflowers and geraniums, when she got the call.

“Oh my God. I was shopping in Lowe's, looking at flowers. And then this call comes in and she told me I’m the Kuskokwim Classic winner and I didn't know what to think. And I said, ‘Oh my God.’ That's all I said. And that was the best Mother's Day present I've ever had,” Morgan said, adding with a laugh: “Besides my gifts from my kids.”

Sixty-five-year-old Morgan was the sole winner of the 2024 Kuskokwim Ice Classic jackpot, with an exact guess of 8:40 a.m. on May 8, 2024. She won $21,747.50.

“I was smiling ear-to-ear with happiness,” she said. Ice Classic managers announced Morgan’s win on Facebook Live on May 12, and called her during the livestream, catching her at that Lowe’s in Wasilla where she was visiting family.

“I was so happy and excited. I didn't know. I wanted to scream and holler, but I was in Lowe’s. And there were so many people that I hurried up and told my sister-in-law Twinks, and we both hugged each other,” Morgan said.

The three winners of the Ice Classic’s separate “Minute Madness” event were announced the same day the tripod fell.

Morgan said that the first person she called after she won was her youngest son, Harry Jr., who initially didn’t believe her.

“I don't get too excited anymore like when I was younger,” Morgan said. “But I'm very excited. I am very happy.”

Morgan is originally from Crooked Creek, but has lived in Aniak for more than 50 years. She’s a retired certified nursing aide (CNA) and was a registered clerk for the local clinic.

Morgan said that this was her first time entering the Kuskokwim Ice Classic.

“Last minute, I was going through my Facebook and all of a sudden I see this Kuskokwim Classic. So I called and bought five tickets,” Morgan said. “I didn't realize I put all in the a.m., and 8:40 [a.m.] was one of them.”

In total, Morgan said that she bought 25 tickets, each one a guess at an exact time and date – that’s $120 she spent to ultimately win almost $22,000.

“It was just weird,” Morgan said. “I just – like someone was, I don't know, in my head like someone was telling me 8:40. So I just wrote 8:40 – or told Beverly [over the phone].”

That’s Bethel resident Beverly Hoffman, who answered the phone and sold her the tickets. Morgan said she’ll be buying dinner for Hoffman – anything she wants – at Aniak’s pizza and sub restaurant Hound House the next time they’re both in town.

As for what she’ll do with the money, Morgan said that she doesn’t have solid plans yet.

“I’m gonna fix my car first. And then I really don't know,” Morgan said. “But I know I have a lot of plans for it – my garden.”

The first thing she did though? After she got off the call, she bought the flowers.

“Well,” Morgan said, “I was gonna buy them anyway.”

Morgan said after this Ice Classic windfall in her first year guessing, she’ll definitely be entering the contest again.

Sage Smiley is KYUK's news director.