Get in line: Tickets for final McHenry Queen of Hearts raffle are on sale
The parking lots for Queen of Hearts players around McHenry VFW Post 4600 did not stay empty for long.
Just hours after the final ticket-holding hopeful drove away following Tuesday night's dramatic Queen of Hearts drawing, people started lining up to be among the first to buy tickets for the grand finale next week.
Demand is higher than ever because the organizers announced that the game will come to an end with the Sept. 18 drawing. The new -- and final -- pot amount is $7,080,528, with the winner getting 60 percent or $4,248,316. Seven cards are left and, even if it takes seven draws to find the elusive queen of hearts, someone will win next week.
Post 4600 Commander Dwane Lungren said so many people were driving in to buy tickets that they would need help from police to direct traffic near the VFW, which is on Route 120 east of the Fox River.
"We knew as soon as we said the magic word 'drawdown' ... we were going to have $200,000 in sales every day," Lungren said.
Lungren said there were around 1.2 million raffle tickets in the massive custom-made drum Tuesday night. The drum, which needs four people to spin, is emptied each week and can comfortably hold about 2.2 million tickets.
"We feel we're going to end up right around there," Lungren said.
Last week demand became so high that volunteers, taking advantage of nice weather, set up a trailer and tents outside from which to sell tickets.
On each ticket, customers write their name, phone number and which of the remaining seven envelopes they think the winning card is hiding in.
The game is based on a shuffled deck of cards and jokers that are placed in numbered envelopes and arranged on a board. Until now, only one of the hidden cards would be revealed each week.
Next week will be different. If the queen of hearts isn't found on the first draw, organizers will draw again. If one of the tickets that follows has an envelope number on it that has already been selected, the organizers will open the envelope with the next highest number.
"That way we're not going to sit there for eight hours picking repeat numbers," Lungren said. "And we don't want to call the person to ask what envelope they want and sit here waiting for someone to call back."
The VFW posted the full rules for the draw down on its Facebook page Wednesday morning.
VFW officials previously announced that whenever this Queen of Hearts raffle ended they would hold off on beginning the new raffle until January. That pot will be made up of 20 percent of the current raffle's pot as well as the ticket sales for the upcoming final draw. Lungren estimated the initial pot for next year's game could start at around $3 million.