Fairbanks man is sole winner of Alaska ice game

Topics: From the Wires,

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s favorite guessing game has a single winner.

Tom Waters of Fairbanks was the only person this year to guess that a tripod set up on the Tanana River would tip over and stop the official clock at 7:39 p.m. April 23, organizers of the Nenana Ice Classic said Tuesday.

Ice Classic manager Cherrie Forness said the record jackpot this year is $350,000, of which $252,000 will go to Waters after federal taxes. Waters did not immediate return a request for comment.

For $2.50 a guess, ticket buyers try to predict when the ice will go out. The jackpot is traditionally about $300,000.

The game has been a tradition since 1917, and records show the ice goes out anywhere between April 20 and May 20.

The tripod is set up on the Tanana River in the tiny community of Nenana, about 55 miles south of Fairbanks. The black-and-white tripod, which has multiple legs, trips the clock when it shifts on the river banks as the ice melts.



Waiting for the ice to move is hugely popular in a state that doesn’t participate in lottery drawings or have any sanctioned gambling beyond bingo and pull-cards.

The classic has come a long way since it was founded by engineers surveying for the Alaska Railroad 95 years ago. They charged $1 a guess as to when the ice would go out, and the winner pocketed $800.

The game is operated by a nonprofit organization, and after splitting out the winners’ take, expenses and staff salaries, proceeds help charitable organizations like the city’s library, senior center, a Fairbanks rescue mission and Special Olympics Alaska.

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