ANSONIA – It was another record-setting jackpot as the Whistle Stop in Ansonia hosted the 2017 Queen of Hearts finale Thursday night.
After the first two drawings of the night were losers, 44-year-old Jason Broering of St. Henry turned over #52 on the game board, revealing the elusive queen. With the finale night jackpot just north of $725,000 – Broering claimed a cool $580,000.
Whistle Stop owner Andrew Riffle was all smiles after finally finding a winner.
“I’m not sure who is happier Jason, myself or my great employees,” Riffle said. “It’s been along year for all of us and it’s going to be nice to get back to normal operations.”
Aside from Broering, many local organizations throughout the game, which began in January, have profited from its success. Funding was made available for new playground equipment at the Ansonia ballpark, sending the 8th graders to Washington, D.C. and many other great causes.
“I have lived here my whole life and know how hard it is to raise funds in a small town. We didn’t just raise a little money for this small town…we raised a ton of money,” an excited Riffle explained. “I will look back at this for years and smile. It makes me proud!”
“What people don’t realize is every week there was numerous organizations benefiting from this and these organizations had 20-25 volunteers. These are the people who deserve the praise,” he added.
Riffle started the Queen of Hearts game a few years ago to try and grow his business. What started as a fun Thursday night out for the locals turned into 10,000 patrons visiting each week looking for that queen.
“I really want to thank all of my employees, my friends and family, all volunteers, the contractors, my finance Kalie and new son Lincoln. These people were put in the spotlight and represented my business and our town masterfully,” Riffle noted. “There is not doubt in my mind that not very many bars could have pulled this off. Luckily I have the best staff in the business. They made it look easy and every week went off without a hitch.”
Riffle purchased the Whistle in November of 2015. This was his third Queen of Hearts game since…and by far the biggest. An estimated 25,000 people packed the small town of Ansonia for the final night.
When asked if he had any last comments, Riffle smiled and said, ”It was great seeing people from all over Ohio having a great time and shoo-wee we just gave out a lot of money!”
Riffle says they plan to begin their fourth game sometime in spring of 2018, but for now it’s time for a break for everyone.
PHOTO CAPTION: Whistle Stop owner Andrew Riffle with Queen of Hearts jackpot winner Jason Broering of St Henry. (Clinton Randall photo)