Long odds against winning $268,117 held fast Wednesday night as the wildly popular American Legion Queen of Hearts raffle defied Bob Detmer, of Bartelso, who managed to have his ticket drawn from a drum filled with tens of thousands of tickets, all marked with individual numbers assigned to more than 6,000 players.
Detmer, with ticket no. 4269, had five minutes to make it to the board, but he wasn’t present. Organizers called him and the card he selected ended up being the five of clubs. Because he wasn’t present, he would have only received half the prize, but he did receive a $500 consolation prize. Because the progressive pot will roll over to next week, Dan Heggemeier, the volunteer bar manager at the American Legion post, said he expects the prize to grow to at least $325,000.
When the crowd realized the Queen of Hearts hadn’t been chosen, a defeaning roar went up from the crowd of more than 1,000 gathered. One person in the crowd shouted “Everybody buy Bob a drink!”
So many people gathered that some people were asked to leave the building so more people could come in to buy tickets. Organizers stopped selling tickets at 7 p.m.
Tose present came from near and far to see the drawing.
One Highland man who asked not to be named said his house had just been forclosed on,and his mother had just entered a nursing home. He clutched a lucky horseshoe during the drawing.
Another woman, Kathie Gluck, was visiting from Pensacola, Fla., and came to the event.
“I’ve been all over the U.S.,and I’ve never seen such enthusiasm for a small town in Southern Illinois,” Gluck said.
Alec Daily, a 27-year-old from Maui had been in town to visit his girlfriend, Kayla Revermann, 26, of Breese, and stayed two extra days so he could attend the drawing.
The winner of next week’s drawing will have a 1-in-5 chance of drawing the Queen of Hearts.
The Queen of Hearts idea took hold in Ohio, where in October, a 69-year-old woman won $3.4 million when she selected the queen from three remaining hidden cards. That raffle started in a bowling alley.