AMBOY – The third time was a $99,530 charm for Ashley Weisenborn.
The 29-year-old Montgomery woman was the grand prize winner Sunday during the 28th annual Depot Days’ 50-50 raffle.
Weisenborn, who hails from Montgomery, about 50 miles due east of Amboy, traveled just over an hour to enter the raffle, joining others who watched a big red barrel filled with hopes and dreams – and thousands of tickets – go for a spin.
On Sunday afternoon, her dream came true.
"I'm in total shock," Weisenborn said.
It's the third year she made the trek to Amboy for the Depot Days Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show, and the third time she's tried her luck at the 50-50 raffle.
Although the pot is smaller than the previous 3 years’ – last year’s winner took home $110,885, 2016’s pocketed $135,903, and 2015’s winning ticket holder hauled away a record $149,333 – Weisenborn isn’t complaining.After all, a few hundred bucks shy of 100 grand is a pretty good return on a $10 investment.
"I have no idea what people do or what to do with this money," she said.
But after giving it some thought, she managed to come up with a few ideas.
She said she’ll pay off her 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and use some of the rest to upgrade her off-road ride.
"I said to my boyfriend, ‘Why doesn't my Jeep look like the other Jeeps at the show?’ and he reminded me that I just bought mine and haven't done anything to it yet," Weisenborn said. "So I guess I'll use the money to … put a lift kit on it for starters,” she said.
Depot Days Queen Margaret Vaessen plucked Weisenborn's winning ticket number – 426717 – out of the red motorized drum.
Weisenborn wasn't the only raffle winner. This year, organizers mixed things up a little bit, giving out four $5,000 prizes instead of just one.
Peggy Peugh of Rock Falls was one of the winners. She was at home when her phone rang with news that she had won $5,000.
"It was total mayhem here when we got the call," Peugh said. "I really don't know what to do with the money but I'll probably put it in the bank," she said.
Connie Saylor from Loves Park, Jennifer Diaz from Mendota, and Clyde Patterson from Rochelle also took home $5,000 each.
And so,after the last car show award was given, and the last raffle winner called, the large crowd that gathered under summer’s second wind on a hot and humid day started to go their separate ways – until next year, when organizers roll out the barrel again and give someone a grand old time they’ll never forget.
Total jackpot and first-place winners’ shares in the Amboy Depot Day raffle since 2012:
• 2018 – $199,060 and $99,530
• 2017 – $221,770 and $110,885
• 2016 – $271,806 and $135,903
• 2015 – $298,666 and $149,333
• 2014 – $215,510 and $107,575
• 2013 – $149,006 and $74,503
• 2012 – $92,392 and $46,196