It was a face card. It was a heart. But it was not the elusive queen.
This left the hundreds of audience members at Tuesday’s Queen of Hearts drawing at the McHenry Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4600 further tantalized by the growing jackpot, which now is approaching $4 million.
VFW Senior Vice Cmdr. Ben Keefe said about 500,000 tickets, some of which came from neighboring states, were sold for this week’s $3.3 million drawing.
When the queen of hearts is chosen, the winner will earn 60 percent of the pot, while 20 percent would go back to the VFW and 20 percent would go to starting the next pot.
This week’s selected ticket holder requested to pull card No. 39 off the board of remaining playing cards. Inside the tiny envelope was the king of hearts.
Two queens remain in the game. If the queen of clubs is picked, the selector will receive 5 percent of the pot.
The remaining cards are 20, 25, 29, 30, 35, 36, 38, 40, 49, 51, 53 and 54.
Bob Reese of Woodstock said he has been playing for the jackpot for the past 10 weeks, and since it has better odds than winning the lottery, he still will try for it even after the winner is drawn.
“[The jackpot] will still be huge once it rolls over,” Reese said.
Had the queen of hearts been selected Tuesday, next week would have begun with a $1.1 million pot.
On Monday, the McHenry City Council agreed to raise the maximum payout to $6 million before taxes, meaning the pot could grow to $10 million.
Some council members were concerned that the game was getting out of hand, but Keefe assured the council that if the organization felt safety was an issue, advanced notice would be given of a drawdown scenario, where VFW officials would pull cards until a winner emerges in a single night.
A McHenry police officer – who only had been present on and off throughout the course of the drawing – now is in attendance every week.
Keefe reminded participants that they do not have to wait until Tuesday to buy their tickets, which are available throughout the week at the VFW, 3002 Route 120, and they do not have to be present at the time of the drawing.
Keefe said about 40 volunteers are needed to operate the game.