The secret is out: an Edmonton couple, who have held season tickets for more than a decade, are the lucky football fans who took home the Edmonton Eskimos‘ massive 50/50 jackpot from Friday night’s game.
Quentin and Samantha Ebertz were handed a cheque for $435,919.50 on Tuesday afternoon, with an additional 50 cents thrown in by Eskimos’ CEO Len Rhodes to round it up to an even dollar.
“Life-changing for sure,” Quentin said. “It certainly is. It’s still hard to fathom the amount of numbers in the total. We’re also very, very happy the other half is going back to minor football.”
The couple purchased one $20 ticket, a tradition for them at every home game. Quentin said they usually arrive at the stadium, grab a 50/50 ticket, a pop and popcorn, and head to their seats in Section J.
Quentin was watching Global News Morning on Saturday when he realized he might have the winning ticket.
“I go to my wallet and I open it up and… the third one from the last was the number,” he explained, adding he looked at the at least ticket 10 to 15 times.
“I woke Samantha up and I said, ‘You need to come down and look at this because I don’t know if I’m reading this right.’ And luckily I was. It was a pretty good moment.”
Samantha said she and Quentin “grew their relationship through football.” The couple began attending Eskimos’ games together before they even started dating.
“We were on a flag football team together and then coming to the games together,” she said.
“It’s part of our life,” said Quentin, who grew up playing amateur football in Sherwood Park.
They have had season tickets since 2003 and in 2011, Quentin even proposed to Samantha at the Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium, in the week leading up to the Labour Day rematch between the Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders.
They now have a two-year-old son they hope will also get into the game.
Because of their deep love of football, Rhodes called the couple “picture-perfect winners.”
So, what’s the first thing they’re going to do with the money?
“We do have a little bit of debt that we have to pay off and we’re going to do that first,” Quentin said, adding they will also “have fun” with some it, perhaps taking a holiday in the fall. They also plan to set up an education fund for their son.
Friday night’s prize grew to $435,919.50 after the 50/50 prize of $82,060 from the Eskimos’ season opener went unclaimed.
The combined pot broke a Canadian Football League record for the largest 50/50 jackpot in the league’s history. The previous record was also held by the Eskimos.
The football club said someone came to claim the prize on Saturday morning. However, the team decided not to reveal the winner’s identity until a cheque presentation on Tuesday.
The other half of the prize goes to local football organizations. Since 2012, the Eskimos have raised more than $2.8 million for amateur football in central and northern Alberta.
There were 36,260 people at Commonwealth Stadium for Friday night’s game, the biggest crowd for a CFL game so far this season.
After falling 9-0, the Eskimos went on to beat the Ottawa Redblacks 23-21.
This is the second time in three years the 50/50 prize has carried over. The last time, in July 2014, the jackpot soared to a whopping $348,534. Connor Croken, 20, went home with the money.
Even after the big payout, the Ebertzs plan to continue buying 50/50 tickets because of the cause behind the lottery.
“I think it’s important. The need for amateur football funding isn’t going to stop just because of this big payout,” Quentin said. “And one day our son might be in a situation where he’s playing amateur football and this could be our way to pay it back.”
Watch below: Why is Edmonton so obsessed with 50/50?