Winner nets $2.8 million from McHenry VFW Queen of Hearts

By Kelli Duncan For Chronicle Media

People traveled from all over the state and lined up early in hopes of getting a chance to be the winner at the McHenry VFW Queen of Hearts raffle on Sept. 18. (Photo by Kelli Duncan/for Chronicle Media)

After four drawings, a participant by the name of Lori S. became the long-awaited winner of $2.8 million in the McHenry VFW Queen of Hearts raffle on Tuesday, Sept. 18

The pot of winnings for the Queen of Hearts raffle has been steadily growing since it began in April 2016, reaching an astounding $7,080,528.

But it all ended tonight (Sept. 18) in a chaotic, suspenseful “draw down” event where VFW staff drew tickets until one containing the envelope number of the Queen of Hearts was chosen.

Tonight’s lucky winner walks away with 60 percent of the pot or roughly $2.8 million after taxes.

The draw down event was a sight to see with five food trucks, a beer tent and thousands of people traveling from all over the state in the hopes of being picked as the big winner.

The event took over four parking lots outside of the VFW building. An estimated 30 VFW staff members, 50 volunteers and a handful of local police officers were recruited to ensure that the night went smoothly.

People wait with anticipation for the drawing of the McHenry VFW Queen of Hearts raffle on Tuesday, Sept. 18. The winner will get $2.8 million. (Photo by Kelli Duncan/for Chronicle Media)

Tickets were sold until 7 p.m. when the ticket line was cut off by VFW staff and only those in line already were allowed to proceed. The drawing began shortly before 8 p.m.

Of the remaining money, 20 percent will go back to the McHenry VFW and the other 20 percent will be used to start the pot for their next raffle.

Earlier on Tuesday, commander of the McHenry VFW, Dwayne Lungren, appeared on WLS 890 AM’s Big John & Ramblin’ Ray radio show to talk about how the VFW will use its share of the pot.

“We are able to do some major upgrades to our facilities here that we have not had the opportunity to do for years to include, again, a large parking lot and some amenities,” Lungren said on the radio show. “…We have long-term veterans programs that it’s important that we maintain as well.”

An announcement was made at the drawing that the VFW will start the next Queen of Hearts raffle on Jan. 8 to give staff some down time to recover from the chaos.