After months of drawings, swelling crowds and weeks of anticipation, the McHenry VFW finally drew a winner in its Queen of Hearts Tuesday.
The victorious player, known only as Lori S., has 24 hours to collect her winnings. She told NBC 5 she’s overwhelmed and wants to remain anonymous.
“She needed catch her breath, so she was totally flabbergasted, and she wants to remain anonymous,” Post Cmdr. Dwane Lungren said of the winner after reaching her by phone.
The pot climbed to unimaginable numbers as people from all over Illinois and even surrounding states flock to enter for their shot at walking away with $2.8 million.
McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett appropriately wore a “show me the money” T-shirt while he pulled the winners for a spellbound crowd.
“We’ve had double or triple the crowds that we normally get these days in the past week,” said Lungren.
The drawing, which has been carrying over for more than a year, went on to an official draw down with seven cards remaining. Winning raffle tickets were drawn and winners will get to pick cards until someone finds the Queen of Hearts and claims the big prize.
The jackpot was expected to reach as high as $7 million and the number of tickets in the big barrel could reach as many as two million.
Lines grew as the 8 p.m. drawing neared Tuesday.
“[People] keep saying they’re the winner, which is kind of funny,” Lungren said. “There’s a lot of confidence in the room.”
It’s been exhausting for Lungren and his staff. The kitchen alone has never been so slammed, he said.
The payoff will be keeping 20 percent of the pot to fix up the place-from bathrooms to the parking lot plus more money for veterans programs.
“One of our goals here is to bring awareness to the VFW, bring awareness for veterans and it’s not just our post here, it’s for all VFW’s,” he said.