No winners for McHenry VFW Queen of Hearts jackpot. New jackpot is $2.92 million.
Her dream almost came true.
An hour before the Queen of Hearts drawing Tuesday night at McHenry VFW Post 4600, Kim Kolb of Grayslake knew exactly what she would do with the big prize.
"We're starting to go broke so I'd like to win now," said Kolb, who has been playing for several weeks and like hundreds of others was waiting for the big pick at 8 p.m. "I need a vacation."
She came close to a 60 percent of the $2.6 million jackpot ($1.56 million after taxes), but it wasn't to be as the long-running game rolled over for another week. The new jackpot total is $2.92 million.
"I didn't win the big pot, but it's still very exciting," said a stunned Kolb. "Tonight was my 15 minutes of fame."
The huge jackpot, thought to be the largest VFW Queen of Hearts purse in Illinois, has made the sprawling post on Route 120 just east of the Fox River a center of attention.
But it also has taken on a life of its own and is wearing out volunteers who week after week have been making preparations and running the game.
"We'll just hunker down and do it again," said Dwane Lungren, post commander. "It's another round -- this is a championship fight."
Like every other recent Tuesday, ticket buyers poured into Post 4600 when it opened at 11 a.m.
Within minutes, the parking lots were full as drivers prowled slowly looking for spots like mall shoppers on Christmas Eve. The situation was amplified as the drawing time neared.
Picnic tables outside and row upon row of folding tables inside were filled with players looking to strike it rich. Many patiently wrote their names and phone numbers on the tickets, while others used stamps to speed the process.
Among them was Kolb, who came with Greg Riendeau of Gurnee for their sixth or seventh try at the jackpot. The game is based on a shuffled deck of standard playing cards and two jokers that are placed in numbered envelopes and arranged in rows on a board.
Cards that have been selected by drawing winners but aren't the elusive queen of hearts are turned face up. Fifteen envelopes remained Tuesday. There will be 14 next Tuesday.
Besides a name and phone number, tickets must have a number to correspond with the envelope. Kolb didn't write one her ticket but was allowed to pick one because she was there in person.
Startled at the opportunity, she "blanked out" and went with 44. Inside the envelope was the eight of clubs.
"I was shaking. I was like, 'Oh my God, I had my opportunity," she said.
Riendeau said, "She willed it. She really wanted it."
Kolb did get a crisp $100 bill for being selected. She said she'll play again.
So on it goes for Post 4600.
"No one imagined it would get this big. No one at all," said Jeff Homeier, president of the VFW board. "I know our volunteers are worn out."
Some wanted to see a winner, but many of the 600 or so people who came for the drawing exhaled a little with the rollover.
"It's exciting if there's a winner or not, the atmosphere is so exciting," said Linda Tanner of Antioch, who bought 40 tickets (six for $5) for Tuesday's drawing.
"Everybody wants a dream here."