Crowd lines up early for $1 million-plus Queen of Hearts raffle
The first car at Aviston’s American Legion on Wednesday arrived at 9:30 a.m. Throughout the day, 6,000 to 7,000 more people flocked to the Legion hall for the chance to win over $1 million, forming a line that stretched from the hall’s doors to the end of the road.
Last week, the American Legion Queen of Hearts jackpot topped the $1 million mark after the game rolled over once again.
The pot was at $1.04 million as of 3:30 p.m., but will climb even higher through ticket sales through the afternoon, a bartender at the Legion said. He said they are anticipated even larger crowds than usual since people will be off work tomorrow for Thanksgiving.
“We want it to go. We are hoping that the person is here and can find this queen. We’ve been working really hard and we all would like a break,” he said.
For over 40 weeks, thousands have flocked to the small town for a chance to pull the elusive Queen.
Aviston Mayor Dale Haukap said the raffle has brought overwhelming crowds to the town. Each week, at least 6,000 people pour into the town, which has a population of about 2,000 and covers about 1.6 square miles.
Legion officials posted on their Facebook page on Wednesday reminding people not to park illegally and to watch out for pedestrians.
Officials also said shuttles will transport players from pick-up points around town.
On Nov. 15, a Belleville News-Democrat investigation revealed legal concerns with some Queen of Hearts raffles in Illinois.
The Legion has a license issued by the city but never filled out an application. The license did not include various criteria that appears to be mandated by state law.
Haukap said he recognized the city made a mistake and is now having the Legion fill out an application.