As I walked to the door of the Morris VFW Post 2049 for the Queen of Hearts drawing Monday night, I was not surprised to see the parking lot full of cars and trucks.
After all, that's been the case more often than not for that lot in the last few months. So much so that the VFW changed the times it sells tickets for its drawing, so as to not disrupt the school buses that serve the surrounding neighborhoods.
I was surprised, though, when I entered the room.
What has been in the past a shoulder-to-shoulder event suddenly had the attendance of a WNBA game. Maybe it was due to the fact that the winner doesn't need to be present in order to claim the prize, or maybe the pot of $785,166 wasn't quite exciting enough. Not after all the hubub of the $1.6 million pot.
There wasn't a big winner Monday night, as the ticket drawn uncovered the jack of diamonds. In order to win the big prize, the ticket drawn must uncover the queen of hearts.
But, since this is a new game, there are still other sizeable prizes to be had. If either of the two jokers or the other three queens are uncovered, that lucky person would win five percent of the pot, which this week amounted to $39,258, not a bad return on a $5 investment. Heck, just getting your name drawn wins $50, no matter what card your number uncovers.
It makes more sense to play early in the game than to wait until the pot increases. There are six cards that can net the winner at least a five-figure payday. I don't know about you, but that would make a big difference to me.
But know that next week's pot of $807,461 isn't what you would walk away with. You would get 70 percent of that, before taxes. Fifteen percent goes to start the next game, and the other 15 percent goes to the VFW.
And, the VFW has been putting its money from the last pot to good use. Already, they have purchased a new sign, a new awning for the building, new siding and security cameras, the parking lot and roof have been resealed and the inside is being remodeled. That's plenty of good done for the veterans.
But, the VFW hasn't stopped there.
This Saturday, they will be taking Thanksgiving baskets to 8-10 needy vets and their families. Each basket will contain $200-300 worth of food for a holiday dinner that these families otherwise wouldn't' be able to afford. I can't see much better use of the money.
So, the next time you drive past the VFW, think about heading in to buy a ticket or two in the Queen of Hearts drawing. The odds are against you winning the pot, but the odds are 100 percent that some of your money is going to a good cause.
• Rob Oesterle is the senior sports writer for the Morris Herald-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.