When Derek Kai realized he had won the largest 50/50 raffle in North American sports history on Thursday night, he felt overwhelmed.
“I was stunned and shaking when my girlfriend pointed out the winning number,” the Vancouver real estate sales adviser told ESPN. “I didn’t know what to do, so we stepped outside to the concourse.”
Knowing that a pot of $157,000 was available before Thursday’s final Vancouver Canucks home game of the season because of unclaimed prizes — plus the crowd that would come to witness Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin‘s final home game — Kai, his friends, family and co-workers pooled together about $500 to buy tickets for the raffle.
As the game against the Arizona Coyotes wore on, the prize was hitting outrageous levels. By the third period, when it came time to announce the winning ticket, the prize was $397,275, a record by more than $50,000.
“It took a while to go through all our tickets when they announced the numbers,” Kai said.
The winning combo — BS 106 8629 — was part of a group of tickets owned by Kai and two of his lifelong friends who weren’t at the game.
Each will end up with $132,275 when the Canucks cut the check, a process that Kai said might take a couple weeks. Canada imposes no tax on lottery winnings.
Kai said he will be sitting down with his two friends to discuss what they might want to do together. Kai said he will use funds to take his girlfriend on vacation, put money into wise investments and make a donation to the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation.
The jackpot surpassed the previous 50/50 all-time winning prize of $345,120 from an Edmonton Eskimos game in the CFL last year. The Canucks’ previous high was $205,000.
A Canucks spokesperson said it took about 5½ hours to count all the cash from the contest. The other half of the pot — $397,275 — goes to Canucks for Kids, which promotes the health and wellness of children in the community as well as grassroots hockey initiatives.