GARRETTSVILLE, OH - Thousands of people are flocking to a Northeast Ohio bowling alley, spending a few spare dollars for a chance to strike it rich. They are hoping to win what is expected to be a record jackpot from a Queen of Hearts raffle.
As many as 12,000 people packed the parking lot of SkyLane Bowling in the Portage County village of Garrettsville Sunday, hoping for a shot at becoming a millionaire.
"It's just a sea of people crammed into this parking lot and it's pretty awesome," said co-owner and general manager Aaron King.
Monday afternoon, millionaire hopefuls were handing over 20-dollars a ticket for a chance to win the growing jackpot for a Queen of Hearts raffle.
"They're now coming from all over the state and the states around us...word travels fast I guess," said King.
"I've heard somebody comes up here every week from Florida," said millionaire hopeful Kelly Mauney-Stone.
"One guy at work explained how it worked, and after the jackpot starting getting a little bigger, I figured why not, try to get in there and win," said another millionaire hopeful Debbie Sommers.
The Queen of Hearts raffle began here about a year ago with 54 playing cards sealed face down on a board. Each week, one ticket is drawn.
"Whatever number's on that ticket, that's the card we cut out and turn over, if it's the queen of hearts, they win the progressive jackpot...if not, the drawing continues the next week, and we throw out the tickets and we sell new ones," explained King.
There were five cards left for the queen to hide under during Sunday's $1.5 million jackpot.
"We overturned card number 39, it was the ten of hearts," said King.
That means someone will have four cards to choose from this Sunday, when the jackpot could exceed two million dollars.
Kelly Mauney-Stone and her husband Skippy Stone hope it's them.
"We just spend our 20 dollars a week at it, twenty dollars on the big dollar one and give dollars on the 50/50, and if it's meant to be it'll be," said Skippy Stone.
The bowling alley holds a 50/50 raffle, with half of the proceeds going to the winner and half to local charities.
Anyone who enters the Queen of Hearts drawing receives 90 percent of the winnings if they are present, and half if they are not. The rest of the money goes toward starting a new game, according to King.
If the jackpot reaches two million as expected, it would be the largest in the state for the game…beating out a $1.8 million jackpot in Austintown, near Youngstown, last year.