FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Tanana River ice continues to hold despite a recent warm spell, and the size of the jackpot in the Nenana Ice Classic continues to climb.
Lottery manager Cherri Forness said the chances are good that the jackpot this year will be at least $300,000.
The black-and-white tripod standing on the Tanana River ice probably is a good two weeks from going anywhere, she said.
''The last count I took we were at least 285,000 tickets and we still have tickets coming in,'' Forness told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
''It's looking good'' for a $300,000 jackpot, she said.
At least half of the money generated by the sale of the $2 tickets goes to the jackpot. That's split among those who are closest to guessing the exact date and time that the tripod moves far enough down the river to trip a wire connecting it to a shore-side clock and stop the clock.
Three winning tickets shared a $280,000 jackpot last year when the ice went out April 29.
Despite above-average temperatures that roase into the low 50s around the Alaska Interior the last couple of days, the river ice actually thickened between measurements.
It measured 35 inches Sunday and was 36 inches Thursday, lottery officials said.
A few sections of open water were beginning to show on the Nenana River, but the ice on the Tanana River was solid.
The Nenana River ice usually goes out about a week before the Tanana ice, Forness said.
Ticket sales ended April 5, but the work has just begun for the nearly 100 people at the Nenana community civic center who check the guesses according to time and date.
It takes workers about three weeks to sort and collate the approximately 300,000 tickets that are sold.
Forness is projecting a winning time in the last few days of April, which would be about average.
''I think it might be a little early but nothing extreme,'' she said.
Ice thickness will be measured twice a week until it becomes too dangerous to do so, Forness said.
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