No Queen of Hearts winner, but there will be one next week
The top prize again remained elusive Tuesday night at the Queen of Hearts raffle hosted by the McHenry VFW Post 4600, leaving one final week of anticipation, excitement and tension.
The packed crowd erupted into applause when Senior Vice Cmdr. Ben Keefe revealed the selected card was the ten of spades.
Had the ticket owner -- someone named "Rebecca A." -- correctly guessed the number shielding the Queen of Hearts, she would have made $3.6 million, which is 60 percent of the total $6 million pot.
This Queen of Hearts game has run nearly a year, but Tuesday was the last time the winning card will remain hidden -- seven cards are left and, even if it takes seven draws, someone on Tuesday, Sept. 18 will win the jackpot.
The new -- and final -- pot amount is $7,080,528, with the winner getting 60 percent or $4,248,316. Details of how the Sept. 18 drawdown will work are on McHenry Post 4600 Facebook page.
"Only one more week," said Kelly Ozyuk, event manager for Post 4600. "I'm excited to see how crazy it will be here next week. Every day has been crazy but next week will be tenfold," she added.
The VFW on Route 120 east of the Fox River has been selling tickets virtually nonstop when it is open, and the pace has accelerated the past week. Tickets are discarded after a rollover and sales start fresh.
"When we started this morning, we were at $790,000 and we've had continuous sales all day," said Post 4600 Cmdr. Dwane Lungren. "We're close to $1 million total."
The game has become so popular that tickets were sold from trailers outside and two huge tents were set up for players to fill out their tickets. Only right turns from Route 120 were allowed, and overflow parking was set up at neighboring businesses, with only pizza from the VFW accepted as payment, Lungren said.
"It's really helped put McHenry on the map and brought a lot of people" to town and the VFW, he added.
"There was somebody here a couple of Tuesdays ago from North Dakota," Ozyuk said. "We are excited. We never could have dreamed of this and it happened."
But success has its drawbacks, and the decision to do a drawdown was made in part because of the toll it has taken on volunteers and staff.
"I think some of the staff members will self-combust. It's amazing," Lungren said.
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. One a week is turned over.
Diane Michalik of Crystal Lake was among the players Tuesday, spending $20 on tickets.
"I'm glad it rolled over because it will give us another chance. It's just exciting," she said.
Will she be back next week?
"Absolutely," she said. "But I'll get here a little earlier."