Online 50/50 draw during world juniors grows to almost $5M in a day

Raffle madness is gripping hockey fans in Alberta as Canada and Finland face off at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton New Year’s Eve. 

The pot for the online 50/50 draw sat at more than $4.9 million as of 6 p.m. Thursday afternoon, up from $500,000 that started the day at 9 a.m. when buying began. 

Hockey Canada and the Alberta Hockey Foundation are offering the draw online to Albertans every game day from  9 a.m. until 10 p.m. while teams play at Rogers Place over the next week. 

As of Dec. 30, a total of $2.4 million had been awarded over eight games since the tournament started on Dec. 22. 

Rylee Coffin, a local hockey fan, said the online version is a way for everyone to participate, even though they can’t attend the games. 

“It gives other people a chance to get into it,” Coffin said Thursday.  “Everyone is excited to get that money — that’s the big interest — as soon as you see that pot going up, more and more people are buying into it.” 

Rylee Coffin, an Edmonton hockey fan, has been watching the World Junior Hockey championships on TV and plans to buy raffle tickets for the 50-50 draw. (Jamie McCannel)

The New Year’s Eve pot will be the biggest during the tournament so far. 

Shabir Madhas, another local hockey buff, said the 50/50 draw is likely getting more interest this year because of the pandemic. 

“They’re not really out and about doing other things,” he suggested. 

He likened the steady increase online to other lotteries when they get a lot of publicity. 

“It’s like playing Lotto 6/49, right? Everyone always plays when it’s $60 to 70 million compared to $5 or 6 million.”

The Hockey Canada raffle during the World Juniors comes after the Oilers ran a milestone jackpot of $14 million in September. 

Half the proceeds go to the Alberta Hockey Foundation for grassroots programs in the province. 

Riley Wiwchar, executive director of the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, noted that it’s the largest jackpot to date for the tournament. 

“We encourage fans to continue enjoying the World Juniors and cheering on Team Canada, and to continue to support the final three daily 50/50 draws on Jan. 2, 4 and 5.”

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