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Winning ticket in Depot Days raffle tops $100,000

Suburban Chicago man wins while attending for first time

Published: Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 10:49 a.m. CDT
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/
Alberto Flores (middle) of Huntley stands on the stage Sunday after receiving an oversized check check to the tune of $107,575 from Jeff Gerdes (left) and Ed Lilja, organizers of the Depot Days 50/50 raffle. Flores could already be out of the country, as he promised his wife that, if he won, they would leave for vacation today.
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/
Miss Amboy, Tierny Hiatt, 17, of Amboy riles up the crowd Sunday before drawing the winning ticket for the Amboy Depot Days 50/50 raffle.
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/
Miss Amboy, Tierny Hiatt, 17, grabs the winning ticket from the 50/50 tumbler and shows it to the audience Sunday during Amboy Depot Days. When the festivities opened for the final day of the festival, $96,000 had been raised.
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/
Miss Amboy, Tierny Hiatt, 17, of Amboy grabs the winning ticket from the 50/50 tumbler Sunday at the Amboy Depot Days.
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/
Alberto Flores of Huntley walks to the stage to collect his check Sunday after winning the Amboy Depot Days 50/50 raffle.=
(Michael Krabbenhoeft/
Don Behrends (left) and Jeff Gerdes spin the Depot Days 50/50 raffle tumbler before a winner is drawn.

AMBOY – Alberto Flores made the 90-minute trip from Huntley to Amboy on Sunday. And on the drive back, he was $107,575 richer.

Flores won the 50/50 raffle at Amboy Depot Days. In 5 years, the winner’s share has increased from $26,717.50 in 2010 to six figures in 2014.

When Flores was announced, he was more than 100 yards away and didn’t hear his name, only that the winner was from Huntley, a fact that drew a smattering of boos from the locals. But when his name was repeated, Flores and his friends heard and started to yell.

“I literally had the tickets in the trunk of the car,” he said. “The chairs were put away. I was ready to go.”

Huntley is a Chicago suburb located northwest of Elgin.

As Flores made his way to the stage to collect his oversized check, the crowd began to cheer.

It was his first time at the car show, and he spent $20 on tickets. Some friends he goes to car shows with convinced him to go, and the raffle was a pretty strong draw.

Earlier in the day, he texted his wife that if he won, they would leave for a vacation today. On Saturday, she had been looking at a vacation package to Puerto Rico, he said.

When asked if he’ll make a trip to next year’s Depot Days, his answer was simple: “For sure.”

Six-figure payout

When Sunday’s festivities started, about $96,000 total had already been raised. Last year, when a total of $149,006 was collected, the pot was increasing by about $12,000 an hour. Sunday’s pace was greater, as the $200,000 mark was reached at 2:45 p.m.

Hank Gerdes was the man announcing the running tally over the speakers all day. Each time an additional $500 was collected, an air horn sounded not too far from where he was standing.

“It’s annoying,” he said. “But then you think about the fact that it’s going to a good cause.”

While half of the $215,150 is going to Flores, the other half stays with the Depot Days Committee. It’s the portion that funds the car show and maintenance the Depot Museum, but it also makes its way to local organizations as donations.

Gerdes said the Depot Days Committee donated money to 18 organizations last year, many in Amboy and the rest in the surrounding area. The groups included food banks and youth soccer leagues. The committee puts an emphasis on youth-focused groups, Gerdes said.

The goal for this year’s 50/50 raffle was $200,000. Next year, for the 25th anniversary, Gerdes said the goal is $250,000.

And he’s confident they’ll reach it.

Past winnings

The previous winning ticket have been worth:

• 2000 – $8,090

• 2001 – $8,400

• 2002 – $7,660

• 2003 – $8,058

• 2004 – $10,083.50

• 2005 – $10,592

• 2006 – $11,215.50

• 2007 – $11,669.50

• 2008 – $14,050

• 2009 – $16,589

• 2010 – $26,717

• 2011 – $40,518

• 2012 – $46,196

• 2013 – $74,503

• 2014 – $107,575

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