The coveted queen of hearts remained in hiding Tuesday night.
But her shyness isn’t stopping thousands of people from across the region from flocking to the McHenry Veterans of Foreign War Post 4600 every week for the Queen of Hearts raffle drawing.
The jackpot swelled to $4,860,324 Tuesday night.
The game has seen an explosion of interest as the jackpot grows, sparking headlines across the region. More than 650,000 tickets were sold for Tuesday’s drawing.
“It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s fun,” said Fiona Lally, who drove from Chicago for the drawing and a possibility of winning millions of dollars.
VFW Cmdr. Dwayne Lungren said he’s ready for someone to win the jackpot.
“I kind of figured it wouldn’t go tonight,” Lungren said. “We need a breather.”
Time’s running out to join in on the contest, as only 10 cards remain, including the queen of hearts. The remaining cards are 20, 25, 29, 30, 35, 36, 38, 40, 51 and 54.
If the queen of hearts is chosen next week, the winner will earn 60 percent of the pot, which is about $2 million after state and federal taxes.
Another 20 percent of the pot would go back to the VFW, and the final 20 percent would go to starting the next pot, which the VFW announced will start Jan. 8.
On Tuesday, a ticket bearing the name Chris G. was picked, and he chose the No. 53. Inside was the six of diamonds, meaning he won $100.
Tickets for next week’s drawing can be bought at the VFW, 3002 Route 120. The VFW is closed every Monday.
A new set of tickets is put into the bin each week. The VFW also bought a larger barrel to accommodate more tickets.
The McHenry City Council has raised its raffle prize limit four times, most recently allowing for a $6 million payout in prize money after its Aug. 6 meeting.
Some City Council members expressed concerns regarding the increasing popularity of the game – and the traffic it causes.
Lungren said he’s made adjustments to keep the game fun and safe. If a final card is left, the event becomes too crowded or the jackpot hits $10 million, a drawdown will occur, meaning tickets will be chosen until a winner is named.
One positive from the elusive queen: drink sales are through the roof.
“It’s hard to even keep the alcohol in stock cold,” Lungren said. “We try to put as much beer as we can in coolers.”