CHICAGO — The Queen of Hearts raffle at McNally’s in Morgan Park reached epic proportions long ago. Now it’s moved on to incredible, extraordinary, ridiculous.
The raffle that won’t end rolled over again last week, and now the pot at the neighborhood bar has swelled to more than $2 million.
The winner splits the pot with nearby St. Cajetan Elementary School, a Catholic grade school.
The raffle has rolled over for 44 weeks in a row. There are now only 10 cards left on the wall at McNally’s, 11136 S. Western Ave.
One of them is the Queen of Hearts.
The next drawing is Thursday night.
To win, someone has to buy a raffle ticket, pick one of the 10 numbers left and hope not only that their ticket gets picked from this week’s drawing, but also that the number they picked is the one with the Queen of Hearts behind it.
Since last fall, no one has done it.
The pot has gotten so big, politicians had to change the city law to allow it to keep rolling.
It’s boosted McNally’s fortunes for months, with people crowding in to buy tickets and sure, why not have a beer when they’re inside. Or two.
The raffle with the potential for a lucrative pot is named for the elusive playing card.
St. Cajetan’s Queen of Hearts raffle began 44 weeks ago with hopefuls buying six raffle tickets for $5. Those buying tickets write their name, phone number and a card number on each raffle ticket and then take a guess as to where the Queen of Hearts is hidden in the deck.
When the game began months ago, the cards were placed face down on a poster board and numbered 1-54 (the jokers are left in the deck). The board is then laminated and thus sealed.
A raffle ticket is chosen each week from the pile at random. A number written on the ticket by the buyer decides which card will be cut out of the laminated poster. If that card is the Queen of Hearts, the winner shares the proceeds evenly with the Catholic school.
The crowd is electric on the night of the drawing each week. Customers stand shoulder to shoulder as an enormous metal tumbler filled with tickets is spun over and over again as a woman dressed as the Queen of Hearts presides. A teacher or parent from St. Cajetan School typically pulls a raffle ticket from the large drum, and the crowd quiets as the name is read over a loud speaker along with the number of the card that has been selected.