LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A game of finding the Queen of Hearts in a deck of 54 cards turned into a weekly event in Valley Station. Thousands would also watch on social media, as the jackpot rapidly grew over $770,000.
For weeks, participants would attend the drawing at Khalil’s on Dixie Highway, hoping to win.
The first time Leslie Duncan bought a ticket, she found the queen of hearts.
“We just lost my mother-in-law in May this past year, she passed way from cancer and there were a lot of expenses,” Duncan said.
Duncan’s story brought goosebumps to Monday’s audience of the Queen of Hearts at Khalil’s. The rules of the game said the winner would split the jackpot with Shirley’s Way. The non-profit organization helps families affected by cancer.
Duncan said even though it has been a tough year financially, she bought raffle tickets to support the charity.
She watched the drawing stream live on her phone. The feed dropped.
“All we could read were the captions below and it said the queen of hearts was found,” Duncan said. “The comments said, ‘she just won,' and my heart dropped. I was crying, and I was jumping.”
Duncan said wining $309,000 will help the family bounce back from medical bills.
“Our goal this year was to give away about $400,000 (to families in need),” Mike Mulrooney, with Shirley’s Way, said. “The money that we bring in for queen of hearts actually accomplished that for the year.”
Mulrooney has never raised that much for the organization in one shot.
Khalil Batshon said he happily hosted the event at his restaurant for 41 weeks. He even expanded the space to fit the Queen of Hearts crowd.
“There are more good people in this community than there are bad,” Batshon said. “We need to remember that and continue the mindset of people helping people, and neighbors helping neighbors.”
Duncan is still astonished by her prize and the community she lives in.
“I’ve never seen so many people gather for such a great cause,” she said.
Batshon said the queen of hearts drawing became more than just a fundraiser -- it was a community event. He plans to start a new game on Feb. 25.