LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The founders of a game in Valley Station had no idea they would raise nearly $500,000 for charity.
Khalil’s Restaurant and non-profit Shirley’s Way teamed up to raise the money for families affected by cancer.
Since the duo started in April, they’ve played the Queen of Hearts raffle every Monday.
Participants buy raffle tickets and pick a place on a board where they guess the Queen of Hearts is located. There are 54 possible places. The jackpot hit close to $489,000 on New Year’s Eve.
“This is really going to help us kick off 2019,” Mike Mulrooney, founder of Shirley’s Way, said.
The goal is to raise money for the organization known for its Cancer Sucks campaign. They provide financial support to families affected by cancer.
“In the richest country in the world, we have people who can’t afford food or medicine or their utilities while they are fighting a disease like cancer,” Mulrooney said.
The game started as a small event at Khalil’s restaurant and bar off Dixie Highway. The owner of Khalil’s began renting an adjacent space in November to make room for the Queen of Hearts crowd.
“When we first started this, we would post videos on Facebook Live and there were hardly any people in the crowd,” restaurant owner Khalil Batshon said.
Six months ago, Batshon had no idea how popular the game would become. Tickets cost $2 and the jackpot is growing by about $30,000 a week.
“The experience has been surreal, overwhelming, and exciting all of those combined into one,” Batshon said.
Once someone picks the Queen of Hearts, he or she will win half of the jackpot and the other half will go to Shirley’s Way. The game could possibly last for another 18 weeks. In some cities, the jackpot has grown to $7 million.
The next raffle will be on Jan. 7.