The clock was winding down, but the anticipation was turning up Thursday night as the last 10 standing at the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce reverse raffle held up the tickets they hoped would win them the $10,000 grand prize.
"Who's left? Hold your tickets up if you're still in this," Emcee Roger Slaton called out into his microphone.
One by one, the names were called and the sounds of sighs, groans and exhales filled The Barn at Valley Brook Farm on Grizzle Road.
Minutes later, the raffle was down to the last five tickets, and soon someone would be $10,000 wealthier.
Or $2,000 richer, as it turned out, because the group opted to take the safe route and split the winnings.
"I'm going shopping," Margaret Bowen said afterwards.
Bowen, who also sold the most tickets for the raffle and was awarded for doing so, and her co-workers at Slaton's State Farm agency went in together to buy their lucky ticket.
Sandy Jenkins, Jennifer Thompson and Jeanette Vaughters said they plan to use their newfound fortune to also do a little Christmas shopping, pay some bills and maybe splurge on a nice lunch together.
James Swafford, Andrea Robinson, Randy Gordy and Jackie Townley each also received a $2,000 check.
While the level of excitement about the win would have probably been more elevated had someone claimed the $10,000 prize, Chamber President Christie Haynes said it was still fun to see so many people celebrating their wins.
"Tonight was just a lot of fun, and everybody was just upbeat, and what's really neat is that we had five winners instead of one," she said.
Carla Boutin, who serves as chairman for the chamber's board of directors, thanked all who supported the event.
"I'd like to thank everyone that did come out and support the chamber. We had to miss having the raffle last year, so this is our first time back and what a fun night," she said. "We have a new venue that I was happy we got to actually showcase for our county. We have a wonderful venue and lots of people came, and we appreciate everyone that supports us and contributes for the chamber."
Proceeds from the reverse raffle, the chamber's biggest annual fundraiser, support the organization's initiatives to promote business throughout the year.
"A big reason we do a couple of events like this a year is to support and make sure we can do all the work we do to help small businesses and big businesses in the community," Haynes said. "All the little things we do, this is how we can afford to do those things."