The announcement was made live on Friday morning by Q host Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio One.
"I don't think we know how big it is yet," said Downey, immediately after Ghomeshi's announcement. "Everything leading up to this point with Searchlight has been so good for the band and getting the music out there."
"I can't imagine what this announcement is going to do."
Band edged out nearly 3,000 acts
The band was one of nearly 3,000 musical acts entered in the contest. It edged out the Good Ol' Goats, a band of high school students from Cranbrook, B.C. in the final.
As winners of the competition, Downey and his band will be featured in a CBC Music video session, perform at the CBC Music festival in Toronto, and will receive $20,000 in music equipment courtesy of Yamaha Canada Music.
They will also be offered a spot on the Evolve Music Festival in Antigonish, Nova Scotia in July — the winner of the Searchlight award for Canada's Best Music Festival.
Fans took to social media
Newfoundland and Labrador fans of the band launched a vigourous social media campaign, urging music lovers far and wide to go to the Seachlight web page to vote for Sherman Downey and the Ambiguous Case.
"At the outset of the competition, we were trying to be careful about not hounding our fans for votes," said Downey. "It just so happened that they started hounding other people."
"The fans that have come out of Searchlight, it's really overwhelming."
Downey, a former teacher, left the classroom about four years ago to allow himself five years to concentrate on music full-time.
He and his band have a new album in the works. Downey said the band hopes the Searchlight competition will open doors for more performance opportunities across Canada and internationally.