‘Queen of Hearts’ hysteria peaks ahead of $7 million drawing with guaranteed winner

McHENRY, Ill. — “Queen of Hearts” mania is hitting (another) new high in McHenry as the jackpot for the charity raffle tops $7 million in what organizers say will be its final week, with a winner guaranteed for next Tuesday.

For the uninitiated, it all began with 54 cards that were shuffled and placed in numbered envelopes displayed above the bar at the McHenry VFW Post. Anyone can buy tickets for the raffle, and on it they write their name, phone number, and the number of the envelope where they think the queen of hearts is hiding.

Each week, a ticket is drawn, and the corresponding envelope is taken down from the wall. Unless the queen is found, the pot rolls over to the next week.

“It’s a very simple game, it’s just a matter of luck," said Dwane Lungren, the commander of the McHenry VFW post. “The whole gist of the game is to find the Queen of Hearts."

Ever since the total pot surpassed $1 million, Lungren said, the VFW has faced a nonstop stream of people, selling $2 million worth of tickets over the last two weeks alone.

“It’s gotten to the point now where it’s across state lines," Lungren said.

George Rubick drove about two-and-a-half hours from Schererville, IN to get to the McHenry VFW.

"Just trying to see if i can get lucky and win some money. It’s unbelievable the amount of money this has generated," Rubick said.

Of the seven numbers left, two of them (51 and 54) were worn by Hall-of-Fame Bears linebackers. Ed Tarnow said he's picking number 54 in honor of Urlacher. But if he wins, he doesn't think he'd splurge for Bears tickets.

“I don’t go down to the games because I can’t see the field. I’ll get a bigger TV," Tarnow said.

Longtime friends and military moms Brenda Adkins and Maryann Racanelli say if they win, they’d help their kids and give back in the spirit of service represented by the VFW.

“If I had that amount of money, I’d have to build something for somebody to live in that was homeless, anybody who is doing without," Adkins said. "It’s not about me. Money comes and goes.”

Tickets will be sold up until 7 o’clock on Tuesday, with the drawing happening an hour later. Organizers say they will keep drawing tickets until the Queen of Hearts is finally revealed, and someone walks away a winner.