FAIRBANKS — The jackpot for this year’s Nenana Ice Classic is $318,500, assuming the Tanana River ice does go out at some point.
The event’s board of directors approved the jackpot amount in a meeting on Wednesday night, Ice Classic manager Cherrie Forness said.
While this year’s jackpot is less than last year’s record payout of $350,000, it’s still a pretty good chunk of change, Forness said.
“Anything over $300,000 I’m good with,” she said.
The amount represents about half of the ticket sales for this year’s contest, in which people pay $2.50 per ticket to guess the day and time to the minute that the Tanana River ice in Nenana will go out. The official time is determined when a wooden tripod set up on the ice moves and stops a clock to which it is connected on shore.
Last year, the ice had already gone out by now. The official breakup time was 7:31 p.m. Alaska Standard Time on April 23. Tommy Lee Waters, of Fairbanks, was the lone winner, marking the third time the Ice Classic guru has won the contest.
This year, though, thanks to a much-colder-than-normal April, the ice is still holding fast. A measurement taken on Monday showed that the ice around the tripod was still 49.2 inches thick. It has yet to start shrinking or showing any signs of weakness, Forness said.
“It’s still solid bank to bank,” she said. “It’s not even puddling on top.”
The last time the ice was this thick this late was 1994, when it was 51 inches on April 22. The ice went out on April 29 that year.
In 1992, the ice was 47 inches thick on April 22 and it didn’t go out until May 14, one of the latest breakups on record.
Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.