Exactly one year after the lottery game began, Sydney’s Chase the Ace jackpot has finally been claimed.

Kathy McPherson of Sydney, N.S., took home an estimated jackpot of $2.9 million Saturday night -- a grand prize that has accumulated from 12 months’ worth of draws.

McPherson was already a big winner when her raffle ticket was drawn earlier in the evening, earning her a guaranteed prize of about $400,000. But after that, the 62-year-old was able to pull off a feat that had thus far eluded every other winner – she chose the ace of spades from the dwindling deck of shuffled cards, nabbing her a jackpot that had built up into the millions.

“I’m in shock,” McPherson said afterwards. “I’ve never won anything in my life, ever. Two dollars I think on 649.”

McPherson said she’s originally from Nova Scotia, but had been out working in Alberta until last week.

She says her working days are now hopefully over.

“They asked if I’d go back in August,” she said. “But I don’t think so.”

She also added that some of her winnings would “definitely” be going towards Fort McMurray wildfire relief efforts.

How “Chase the Ace” works

The game is a 50/50-style raffle that holds a draw about once per week (full rules here). Tickets are sold on the day of the draw for about a dollar a piece.

Each week, one winner is chosen – they take home 30 per cent of the day’s sales.

The game’s first winner then gets to select one card from a full deck of 52 cards – if they select the ace of spades, they’ll also win another 30 per cent of the day’s sale. However, if they fail to catch that ace, that 30 per cent is added to a jackpot for the next draw.

The losing card is also removed from the deck, leaving one fewer card for the next winner’s deck.

Each week both the jackpot and the odds of selecting the ace grows, until finally someone wins it all.

When McPherson won, only five cards remained in the deck.

For this particular contest, 40 per cent of each day’s sales also went to the Royal Canadian Legion, with a portion of these proceeds going toward the Horizon Achievement Centre and the Beyond the Horizon Building Campaign.