No winner: Queen of hearts remains hidden in McHenry
The winning card remained hidden Tuesday night, fueling another week of anticipation, excitement and tension as the improbable run of McHenry VFW Post 4600 Queen of Hearts drawing will continue.
"Bring it on. Let's keep going. Let's keep grinding," said Dwane Lungren, commander of McHenry VFW Post 4600.
As it has been for months, the VFW Post on Route 120 east of the Fox River was crammed hours before the 8 p.m. weekly drawing. The overall pot this week was $4.86 million, with a winner standing to take home 60 percent of the total, or more than $2.91 million before taxes. The pot for Sept. 4 is $5.55 million.
But again, it was not to be.
Hundreds of anxious players filled every available space in the banquet hall, dining room and bar area as a ticket filled out by "Matt S." was pulled from among hundreds or thousands stored in a giant drum at the front of the room.
The new vessel is so large it took three men pushing and another turning a crank to make if spin.
The number 35 was written on the chosen ticket. But that corresponded to the jack of diamonds, a nonwinner. Even the queen of clubs, which is worth 5 percent of the pot, remains elusive. Matt. S. wasn't present for the drawing but received $100 for having his ticket picked.
Only nine numbers of the original 54 remain, further thinning the possible choices and fueling the frenzy for another week.
"You can feel the tension in the air. People are just on edge wanting that ticket," Lungren said.
The drawing is based on a standard deck of 52 playing cards and two jokers. Twenty percent of the pot will go to the VFW and 20 percent will be used as the base for the next game.
The Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day," in which the same morning scene repeats over and over, has nothing on the 45-week run at the VFW. For months, the VFW has been selling tickets virtually nonstop when it is open, with an estimated $700,000 to $800,000 sold for this weeks drawing. The total pot as of Tuesday had grown by $1.94 million since July 31, for example.
As they have been for awhile, Vicki Wanta of McHenry and Phil Vanoverbeke of Ingleside both invested $10 on the game.
"It's just fun," said Wanta who was born and raised in McHenry. She said the attention her little town has been getting is awesome.
Vanoverbeke said he didn't think a winner would be selected Tuesday but was reflective about the outcome; he predicted the game will continue another three weeks.
"We're all winners," he said. "It's about having a good time."