Three people are splitting the $20,945 Kuskokwim Ice Classic grand prize. The winners are Janelle Kinegak of Chefornak, Josephine Paul of Bethel, and Vicky Spencer of Bethel. Each will take home $6,981.67.
The Kuskokwim Ice Classic clock stopped at 10:05 p.m. on May 6. Janelle Kinegak and Josephine Paul each guessed the minute before at 10:04 p.m., and Vicky Spencer guessed the minute after at 10:06 p.m.
The three won out of 10,370 people who entered the contest. The $20,945 jackpot is the largest in recent memory for the event. Bethel Community Services Executive Director Michelle DeWitt organizes the Kuskokwim Ice Classic. She said that the contest began in the early 1980s, but reliable records of the jackpot did not begin until the early 2000s.
The Ice Classic raises money through nonprofits selling contest tickets as a fundraiser. The money earned from ticket sales is divided 50/50 between the jackpot prize and participating nonprofits. The contest accepted guesses until the moment of breakup, but guesses made on the same day the clock stopped were ineligible to win.
A change in state regulation allowed the Ice Classic to sell tickets online for the first time this year. The Dunleavy administration implemented the change to allow charitable gaming to continue through the pandemic. The state House has introduced a bill to make the change permanent.
“Having the ability to make guesses online helped tremendously with implementing the Ice Classic and with reducing volunteer/staff time. I hope we can keep this event online, because there is so much work and expense in sorting and organizing thousands of physical tickets,” DeWitt wrote in an email to KYUK.