Jackpot! People coming from miles away to play Queen of Hearts game at bowling alley

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GARRETTSVILLE, Ohio-- Whoever said a million-dollar idea had to be complicated?

At Skylane Bowling in Garrettsville, a quiet Tuesday night has been turned into a seven-day-a-week bonanza and the operation is being run from a folding table in the parking lot.

“I thought what a great thing for us to do on one of our slower nights, but I never imagined that it would have grown into this,” said owner, Aaron King.

King began selling tickets to “Queen of Hearts,” a card game with a jackpot that grows with every ticket sold.

“Somebody won $17,000 a couple of months ago,” said King.

Tickets are sold for $5 each or five for $20. This Sunday’s jackpot is expected to reach $900,000.

“I always believe I’m gonna win; you have to believe,” said Howard Burgy, who drove 20 minutes from his home in Champion to purchase tickets.

Joyce Baillie made the same trip.

“I want to retire in February; I might be retiring Sunday,” beamed Baillie.

“When the pot got over $20,000 the amount of people coming in grew so big we had to switch to a night when there was no bowling leagues,” said King.

“It’s definitely putting us on the map,” said lifelong resident, Dino Manno, who spent $60 on Queen of Hearts tickets and another $10 on the 50/50 raffle to support local charities.

King said he’s donated $100,000 from the raffle since starting it last October.

Skylane’s owner said he’s more than surpassed his original goal of selling more burgers and beer. His bar used to be closed on Sunday, now he has three open to accommodate Sunday crowds. His parking lot is also full of concession stands and a DJ playing music.

He’s not the only person profiting from Queen of Hearts' popularity. King said the property owner across the street from his business made $700 parking cars on his land last Sunday.

King said local restaurants have been jammed with more customers than they can handle. He’s also employing half a dozen off-duty police officers to direct traffic and a shuttle driver to provide free rides from James A. Garfield High School to Skylane’s parking lot.

The next drawing will be Sunday night at 6:00.