(Watch above: Today, 20-year-old Connor Croken received his 50/50 jackpot cheque. Quinn Phillips finds out how he’s going to spend it.)
EDMONTON – After complaints of chaos and disorganization during last Thursday’s record 50/50 draw, the Edmonton Eskimos have spent $45,000 on additional equipment to improve the lottery system.
“It exceeded all expectations,” said Len Rhodes, CEO and president of the Eskimos of the 50/50 demand. “We recognized there was pressure on the system, to say the least.”
“We’ve invested now, as of yesterday, $45,000 in new equipment. A new computer server, new handheld units, and more printers. So, we hope to make the experience much better.”
More than 40,000 attended last Thursday’s game against the Calgary Stampeders, which included a 50/50 pot that started at $72,000 because the previous game’s prize went unclaimed.
Many fans said they stood in long lines for a chance to get their hands on the enormous prize, and some admitted they didn’t even get the chance to buy one.
On Tuesday, Rhodes said the organization had purchased more handheld 50/50 units to add to the 54 it currently has.
“Ten more on order immediately, there are six more printers and a server and a few additional needs as well.”
“We already had a system that really responded quite well to the needs of a typical day, but when you take an average $65,000 as a take-home jackpot and hit $348,000 well, that’s something no one could anticipate.”
He added it was, by far, the largest jackpot the Eskimos organization had ever seen.
“Literally more than two-and-a-half times the size of the largest previous jackpot. And, if you look in terms of Alberta history, it is there. If it’s not the one, it’s certainly the one for us.”
Rhodes said the 50/50 volunteers deserve a lot of credit for how they handled the record demand.
“The sellers actually deserve medals,” he said.
“They’re volunteers. They’re football players… They showed a lot of patience… and they do deserve a lot of credit.”
“We hope to continue the euphoria on 50/50. The other half, which we need to talk about, is the fact that it supports amateur football across northern Alberta. We’re very proud of that.”
Meanwhile, the 20-year-old winner of the record 50/50 draw officially collected his cheque Tuesday morning.
“It’s sunk in right now,” Connor Croken said.
What’s he going to do with the money?
“Honestly, just going to go to the bank right now. Just get it in the bank before I lose it.”
He said he has no plans to spend it right away.
“Maybe I’ll go to Vegas when I’m 21.”
He mused about “definitely” buying a house and “maybe a boat.”
One thing that’s on the list for sure?
“Definitely [will] be buying seasons tickets next year, and every game, 50/50.”
Croken has played 50/50 every Eskimos game he’s attended.
© Shaw Media, 2014