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A $7M jackpot is up for grabs in this small New Brunswick town

The Chase the Ace draw is broadcast live on Facebook each week, as security guards watch over the makeshift pool filled with tickets. (Nation Isaac/CBC - image credit)
The Chase the Ace draw is broadcast live on Facebook each week, as security guards watch over the makeshift pool filled with tickets. (Nation Isaac/CBC - image credit)

In a makeshift indoor pool, a sea of papers is mixed around with red snow shovels in the small community of Petit-Rocher, N.B., each week.

On one of those tickets could be the name of a future millionaire.

It's the 47th week of the community's Chase the Ace lottery, with the jackpot now estimated at $7.3 million.

On the west shore of Chaleur Bay, the body of water between Quebec and New Brunswick, Club VTT/ATV Chaleur has partnered with the Friends of Healthcare Foundation to put on the annual event.

This latest Chase the Ace has brought the biggest jackpot of its kind to the region, with hopeful players now driving to New Brunswick from all over the Maritimes, and beyond, to get tickets that must be bought in person.

Last week, more than half a million tickets were purchased.

 Doug Henderson was blindfolded and led into the pool of tickets to pick the winner of last week's draw.
Doug Henderson was blindfolded and led into the pool of tickets to pick the winner of last week's draw.

Doug Henderson was blindfolded and led into the pool of tickets to pick the winner of last week's draw. (Nation Isaac/CBC)

In Chase the Ace, players buy weekly tickets to stay in the game. If their ticket is drawn, they test their luck at picking the ace of hearts out of a deck of cards.

The lottery continues for up to a year, until the ace of hearts is finally selected.

Half of the money from ticket sales will be used to upgrade and maintain ATV trails between Campbellton and Miramichi, N.B., and fund health care in New Brunswick.

René Beaudet is the president of the Friends of Healthcare Foundation. This is the seventh time he's organized a Chase the Ace.

Beaudet said the gas station on Ramsay Street in Campbellton is getting swarms of people coming in from Quebec.

"They're getting everybody from Gaspé," Beaudet said. He said some players drove more than seven hours from Sherbrooke, Que., spending at least $3,000 on tickets.

He said others have made the drive up from the United States.

Family mix-up

The first name drawn in 2024 came with some confusion.

While the winning ticket was purchased by Doug Henderson, the name Dave Henderson was called out instead of Doug, who turned out to be a cousin.

Hearing his name over the live broadcast, Dave called organizers and picked an envelope over the phone — all while the real winner, Doug, was trying to get through.

Dave picked an envelope that did not contain the ace of hearts.

Organizers livestream the weekly draw on Facebook.
Organizers livestream the weekly draw on Facebook.

Organizers livestream the weekly draw on Facebook. (Nation Isaac/CBC)

"It was a real mixture of emotions to know that I might have chosen a different number than David," said Doug, who is from Campbellton.

It was only after the card was chosen that organizers realized there had been a mistake. In the end, Doug received the $345,403 consolation prize.

"I was confused. I was excited. I was scared that maybe I wasn't going to get the money," Doug said.

Doug still did get to draw last week's winner, however, Campbellton resident Melodie Desjardins.

She chose the envelope with the four of spades inside, netting her the consolation prize of $355,527 — and leaving the big prize up for grabs.

LISTEN | Suspense is building on Chaleur Bay as the big prize grows: