By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — ROUSES POINT — The anticipation is over.
Karen Lavalley of Rouses Point is the lucky winner in American Legion Post 912’s Queen of Hearts drawing.
She pocketed a cool $100,000 jackpot.
“She had the right card on her ticket, and she got it,” Legion Commander Robert St. John said.
Lavalley was not present when her ticket was picked at the legion last Friday night, but her choice of the card to be drawn — No. 4 — was written on the back.
It was the golden card.
She went to the legion hall Saturday morning to pick up her check.
Friday night’s drawing marked the culmination of a contest that captured the imaginations of North Country residents and beyond in recent weeks.
“We certainly had a lot of exposure from this,” St. John said.
The popular fundraiser features a weekly drawing of a playing card from a deck of 54 (including jokers) in search of the Queen of Hearts.
Players buy tickets for $1 each for a chance to be the one who gets to choose a card.
The game at the legion went on for 48 weeks, with the pot mounting each week, as hundreds of would-be winners dished out rolls of cash to buy tickets for a shot at the big prize.
The prize total reached $100,000 three weeks ago, drawing great interest from around the region.
Large crowds flocked to the legion during the week to purchase tickets — and on Friday nights in anticipation of the drawings. Last Friday was no exception, as more than 300 crowded into the bar and the adjoining banquet room.
“That was definitely our biggest crowd,” St. John said.
“We had a lot of people here who just heard about the game, and we had to spend a lot of time explaining how it worked.”
The final three cards in play were on display in a locked glass case, and each one was numbered.
Lavalley’s pick ended the suspense.
Kristin Carnright of Cumberland Head was one of the visitors last Friday hoping for a big payday.
While she had a good time at the legion, she, like so many others, went home disappointed.
“It was a major letdown,” she said. “Kind of like waiting for the great big present on Christmas morning that Santa doesn’t bring.”
The game was a fundraiser for Post 912, with 60 cents of each ticket sold going to the pot and 40 cents to the legion. Once the total reaches the state maximum allowed of $100,000, entity hosting the contest gets all the proceeds.
The legion made at least $67,000 once the jackpot reached the $100,000 maximum. But beyond that, St. John was reluctant to release a final figure for how much they took in.
“Let’s just say it was a pretty good amount,” he said.
The money will be used for renovations to the legion building and to help local causes, namely veterans organizations.
“We will take a few weeks and rest up a little before we start another game,” St. John said. “We’ll see how far that one goes.”
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