It’s not over yet.
The coveted queen of hearts was not chosen Tuesday during the weekly raffle drawing at the McHenry Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4600, paving the way for a drawdown next week, which will guarantee someone becomes an instant multimillionaire.
More than 1,000 people from across the region turned out for Tuesday night’s drawing, when a ticket bearing the name Rebecca A. was plucked out of the bin that contained more than 1 million tickets. She chose card 38, which had the 10 of spades inside, and she won $100.
A drawdown will take place next Tuesday, meaning tickets will be picked until one bears the number of the envelope housing the queen of hearts.
The remaining numbers are 20, 25, 30, 36, 40, 51 and 54.
“I have no words. I have no words,” said VFW Cmdr. Dwane Lungren, adding that he anticipates the largest crowd the VFW has ever seen next week.
Next week’s pot will stand at $7,080,528.
Lungren and other VFW officials initially did not announce the total after the drawing because they wanted to release the correct information.
“We want to double check the count again,” he said. “We’re going to do this right – this is key. We want to make sure we’re correct.”
When the queen of hearts is chosen next week, the winner will earn 60 percent of the pot, which would be about $2.8 million after state and federal taxes.
An additional 20 percent of the pot will go back to the VFW.
After a winner is pulled, the next game with 54 new tickets will not begin until Jan. 8. When it does, 20 percent of the final pot from this game, along with the ticket sale revenue from the final week, will go toward the opening pot of the next game.
“We need a break,” Lungren said. In the meantime, he said, the VFW will begin work to replace the gravel parking lot with a much larger asphalt one, as well as interior repairs.
“I’ve already asked a lot of our members, they’re going to have to dig down in the reserves, and all the volunteers and staff. One more week, and then we’ll have our break,” Lungren said. “The light is at the end of the tunnel. We’re almost to our destination. We’re finally going to be able to take a break.”
He said the coming week “will take a lot out of us.”
Tickets for next week’s drawing can be bought at the VFW, 3002 Route 120, every day except Monday, when the VFW is closed. Tickets must be bought for next week’s game by 7 p.m. Tuesday, Lungren said.
A new set of tickets is put into the bin each week.
The VFW recently bought a custom $5,000 steel barrel to accommodate more tickets. On Tuesday, the more than 500-gallon barrel was more than half-full.
Pending approval from the city and weather permitting, Lungren said he hopes to put the drum outside so more people can watch the drawing. The VFW hall has an occupancy limit of about 600, meaning many attendees have to listen to the results outside on a public-address system.
The game has seen an explosion of interest as the jackpot grows. Each week, participants buy tickets, along with plenty of beer and pizza, Lungren said.
VFW event manager Kelly Ozyuk said she’s excited.
“We’ve been going through this for so long and having so much fun with it,” she said. “Why not let it go to the end? I’m excited to see how crazy it’s going to be this week and next Tuesday. ... This next week is probably going to be 10-fold what we normally have. People will come from everywhere, since there will be a guaranteed winner next week.”
Sharon Balog of McHenry said she has made the drawing her Tuesday night go-to.
“I think it’s great for the community,” Balog said, adding that she believes the VFW deserves the business. “It’s great that they’re benefiting from this. A lot of people come here.”
When asked what she would do if she won, Balog said she would pay off her mother’s home and give some of the winnings to local charities.
“I wouldn’t quit my job,” she said.