AMBOY – Alberto Flores made the 90-minute trip from Huntley to Amboy on Sunday. And on the drive back, he was $107,575 richer.
Flores won the 50/50 raffle at Amboy Depot Days. In five years, the winner’s share has increased from $26,717.50 in 2010 to six figures in 2014.
When Flores was announced, he was more than 100 yards away and didn’t hear his name, only that the winner was from Huntley, a fact that drew a smattering of boos from the locals. But when his name was repeated, Flores and his friends heard and started to yell.
“I literally had the tickets in the trunk of the car,” he said. “The chairs were put away. I was ready to go.”
As Flores made his way to the stage to collect his oversized check, the crowd began to cheer.
It was his first time at the car show, and he spent $20 on tickets. Some friends he attends car shows with convinced him to go, and the raffle was a strong draw.
Earlier in the day, he texted his wife that if he won, they would leave for a vacation. On Saturday, she had been looking at a vacation package to Puerto Rico, he said.
When asked if he’ll make a trip to next year’s Depot Days, his answer was simple: “For sure.”
When Sunday’s festivities started, about $96,000 total had already been raised. Last year, when a total of $149,006 was collected, the pot was increasing by about $12,000 an hour. Sunday’s pace was greater, as the $200,000 mark was reached at 2:45 p.m.
Hank Gerdes was the man announcing the running tally over the speakers all day. Each time an additional $500 was collected, an air horn sounded not too far from where he was standing.
“It’s annoying,” he said. “But then you think about the fact that it’s going to a good cause.”
While half of the $215,150 is going to Flores, the other half stays with the Depot Days Committee. It’s the portion that funds the car show and maintenance at the Depot Museum, but it also makes its way to local organizations as donations.
Gerdes said the Depot Days Committee donated money to 18 organizations last year, many in Amboy and the rest in the surrounding area. The groups included food banks and youth soccer leagues. The committee puts an emphasis on youth-focused groups, Gerdes said.
The goal for this year’s 50/50 raffle was $200,000. Next year, for the 25th anniversary, Gerdes said the goal is $250,000.
And he’s confident they’ll reach it.
The previous winning ticket have been worth:
• 2000 – $8,090
• 2001 – $8,400
• 2002 – $7,660
• 2003 – $8,058
• 2004 – $10,083.50
• 2005 – $10,592
• 2006 – $11,215.50
• 2007 – $11,669.50
• 2008 – $14,050
• 2009 – $16,589
• 2010 – $26,717
• 2011 – $40,518
• 2012 – $46,196
• 2013 – $74,503
• 2014 – $107,575