The Canadian Football League isn’t exactly the most popular sports league in the world these days.
On Thursday night, though, thousands of fans packed Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton to watch their hometown Eskimos take on the rival Calgary Stampeders.
Full disclosure: They weren’t all there to watch the football game.
The influx in attendance, which rose to over 40,000, was the result of a team 50-50 raffle that ballooned to epic proportions, thanks to a previously unclaimed ticket, ESPN.com reported.
The unclaimed ticket from a July 11 Eskimos game was worth $66,812 and was rolled over to Thursday night’s contest. Thousands of people lined up outside the team’s ticket office to purchase their chance at the prize.
By the time the raffle closed 10 minutes after the start of the second half, roughly 170,000 tickets had been purchased, setting the jackpot at a whopping $322,216.
On Friday morning, 20-year-old Eskimos fan Connor Croken was declared the winner, taking home one of the largest 50-50 raffle prizes in sports history. Fans raised a total of $644,432 through the raffle, with half going to Croken and the other half going toward amateur football funding in Alberta.
As it turns out, fans waiting in line to buy raffle tickets missed quite the contest on the field. Both teams entered the game with undefeated records, and a late comeback by Edmonton fell short in a 26-22 Calgary win.
That being said, we’re sure Croken doesn’t mind.
Photo via Twitter/@Randy_Marshall