But in the meantime, the parish and the Goulds business community are quietly content to continue to benefit from the fervour the event has created.
Carol O’Brien, parish spokesperson and chair of the finance committee, explains that 30 per cent of ticket sales go towards the jackpot and 20 per cent is set aside for the consolation prize.
The rest, along with a share of the 50/50 tickets that are sold in conjunction with the event, goes to the parish.
Even after the cost of printing tickets and other expenses are settled, O’Brien says, it’s a “fine chunk of money.”
How much precisely will depend on when the ace is actually drawn. The longer it goes without being drawn, the bigger the jackpot and the greater the dividends to St. Kevin’s.
Following last week’s unsuccessful draw the jackpot stood at $430,717. When she spoke to The Telegram on Wednesday morning, O’Brien was predicting a $600,000 payout.
“We’ve been increasing the past few weeks probably 60 to 70 thousand dollars a night, so you figure that over 10 more weeks,” O’Brien says. “The potential is there for over a million for the prize and probably closer to a million and a half for the church.”
That amount of money that will go a long way for the parish, and plans are already in place to see it put to good use.
The wish list includes major upgrades to the cemetery, renovations and maintenance on the church and parish hall, repairs to a leaky steeple and funding for a food bank that delivered more than $300,000 worth of hampers throughout Goulds, Petty Harbour, Maddox Cove and communities on the Southern Shore last year.
“We have so many projects that we want to do and didn’t have the funding to do,” O’Brien says. “Now the potential is there and we can do everything we need.”
Capitalizing on card crowd
Thanks to a captive audience parked in cars and milling about the main road’s commercial area while they patiently await the winning ticket number to be announced over the FM radio station, restaurants and other businesses are seeing spinoff benefits.
“Everything is rocking on Wednesday nights, which is usually a slow night,” O’Brien says. “Every business in the Goulds is booming and it’s fantastic.”
Not only that, but some community groups like the 4H club and the St. Kevin’s basketball team are making good on the crowds by running their own small fundraisers. There’s even been a busker from St. John’s for a couple of nights to make a tidy profit.
At Peter’s Pizza directly across from St. Kevin’s, owner Renee Brown says business has picked up considerably in the last several weeks. She estimates that last week alone, she sold four to five times as many single-serve slices during the supper hour as she normally would this time of year, and even sold out of some specialty items on the menu.
“If it doesn’t go tonight, I’m going to be afraid for next week,” Brown said with a laugh.
Over at Mary Brown’s, they’ve gone so far as to add a Chase the Ace special to their Wednesday night menu, and manager Jason Hynes says there’s a steady flow of people through the door over and above what they’d normally experience this time of year.
The increase in business isn’t limited to those operations within the section of road that has been barricaded and closed to traffic for a portion of the night. At nearby Shamrock City and Jungle Jim’s, supervisor Jordan Mason says they’ve had to start minimizing reservations to accommodate for the sheer volume of walk-ins.
It’s been great for the whole business community, he says, big and small.
“The little businesses are the ones that get the most bang out of it because they’ve never seen the business like this before and now they’re the ones getting the overflow from the other places,” Mason says.
At Greco Pizza and Frozu Frozen Yogurt, located directly behind the parish, owner Martin Hefferman was welcoming another busy Wednesday night.
“Every week that goes by it keeps on growing, so your business will grow as Chase the Ace does,” he says. “It’s nothing but positives.”
Aside from the boost in sales and the excitement the event has brought to the community, Hefferman, his business partner Dwayne Connolly and their staff of 19 have good reason to support the fundraiser.
Two weeks ago, a ticket the staff all put in money for ended up being called. Connolly wound up drawing the jack of hearts, resulting in a consolation payout of $41,319 — a shade over $2,000 for each staff member.
“If we had picked (the ace) at the time I think we would have got $20,000 each. It wouldn’t have been that good, we’d have no staff,” laughs Hefferman.
The staff at the local Scotiabank branch had the same luck a couple of weeks before.
Asked whether he would like to see the ace drawn and the event come to a close, he has the same answer you’d expect from anyone with a chance to win more than half a million dollars.
“I’d be lying if I said I want it to go tonight, but if it’s going to go tonight, I wouldn’t mind winning it.”