Nenana Ice Classic's 2013 jackpot set at $318,500

FAIRBANKS — The jackpot in this year’s Nenana Ice Classic is $318,500, lower than the 2012 payout.

The prize amount was approved by the Ice Classic’s board of directors on Wednesday night, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Last year, the payout reached a record $350,000, but event officials aren’t worried about the decline.

“Anything over $300,000 I’m good with,” said Ice Classic manager Cherrie Forness.

The value of the jackpot is equal to about half of the ticket sales for this year’s contest. Tickets cost $2.50 each.

The Ice Classic has been held annually since 1917 and has doled out over $11 million in winnings.

Participants in the Ice Classic try to guess exactly what time the ice will break upon the Tanana River in Nenana, located in between Fairbanks and Denali National Park. The official time is determined using a wooden tripod set up on the ice. Once the ice on the river begins to go out in what is called breakup, the tripod moves and stops a clock on shore in order to record the official time.

Unusually cold April temperatures this spring have kept the ice in place relatively late into the season.

On Monday, the ice was measured at 49.2 inches thick. The last time the ice was that thick this late in the year was 19 years ago. It was measured at 51 inches on April 22, 1994, but went out on April 29 of that year.

Ice Classic officials said the latest date for the ice to break up and move was May 20, 1964.

“It’s still solid bank to bank,” Forness said. “It’s not even puddling on top.”

In 2012, the ice went out on April 23. The official breakup time that day was 7:31 p.m.

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