FAIRBANKS - The pool of Vicki Johnson and Elaine Baughman from Juneau was among those who held winning tickets to this year's Nenana Ice Classic.
Six winners correctly predicted ice on the Tanana River at Nenana would depart at 2:16 p.m. AST on Saturday. The jackpot this year in Alaska's oldest and richest guessing game was $301,000.
Johnson and Baughman could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
Dan Bartu made winning the contest look easy. In his first time entering the annual guessing game, Bartu He invested $2.50 on a single ticket won $50,166.66. After taxes, he will keep $36,120.
Bartu was one of two individual winners, both from Fairbanks. The other three winning tickets came from pools in North Pole, Eielson Air Force Base and Anchorage.
Only three of the winning parties have agreed to go public, though the names of all six winners will be published in a book of guesses scheduled to come out next week, Ice Classic manager Cherrie Forness said.
Bartu moved to Fairbanks about 18 months ago and did not participate in the Ice Classic his first year in Alaska. That changed on a trip south.
"I bought one ticket down in Nenana," Bartu told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "I was heading down to Denali with my sister in March and we stopped at a gas station and I took a shot."
Bartu said there was nothing special about the time or date. Bartu took only a few minutes to study a brochure of the previous 87 winning guesses and times before making his pick.
"I just went with the peak time," he said. "I thought it might be a milder winter so I went with an earlier date."
The 33-year-old Bartu is a hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Fairbanks. But as a recent arrival from Tampa, Fla., Bartu doesn't know much about ice.
"My education had nothing to do with it," he said with a laugh.
Bartu said he didn't give his chances of winning the Ice Classic much thought until he drove down to Denali National Park and Preserve on Saturday, the day the ice went out.
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