Hooiser Millionaire Show brings fans out early to Lerner Theatre for Thursday show

July 24, 2014

The line started at 8 a.m., when Lori White, of Mishawaka, planted her camping chair outside the front doors of the Lerner Theatre.

The Hoosier Millionaire Show returns to Elkhart Thursday, July 24, as part of its 25th anniversary celebration. The Hoosier Lottery is hosting the free show at 7 p.m. a the Lerner Theatre, offering area residents a chance to win up to $1 million.

Five contestants have already been picked from around the state, but the show will draw one ticket from the audience for a sixth contestant. Eligible contestants must be over the age of 18 and must bring a non-winning Hoosier Millionaire ticket to the Lerner. 

White was first in line to submit hers.

“I’m surprised more people weren’t out here at 8,” White said, glancing back at the line. 

If she wins anything Thursday night, she hopes to use her money to pay off bills and take a vacation.

By 3 p.m., the line had grown to 40 people, who snaked around the sidewalk on the west side of the Lerner Theatre. Like White, many people brought camping chairs. Others left to bring back food and drinks for friends.

Cindy Osborn, of Mishawka, sat towards the back, crocheting an afghan. 

“I’m in the shade, the clouds are puffy and the weather is nice,” she said, looking up from her needles. “It’s a good way to spend the last day of vacation.”

Osborn said she only heard about the show Thursday morning and scrambled to find an eligible ticket. When she finally found a Martin’s that sold Hoosier Millionaire tickets, a man from Omaha, Neb., handed her his.

While Osborn only has one ticket to submit, Elkhart’s Jim Merritt has more than 100. 

“I’ve been playing for 25 years,” he said with a grin. 

Merritt hopes to use any money he wins to buy a home in Michigan. He was never selected to play on Hoosier Millionaire through all his years of trying, though he knew several people who won money on the original show.

Merritt met fellow Elkhart resident Bobbie Jo Holloway in line and the two chatted like old friends. They had each been waiting for about an hour as of 3 p.m. and were near the middle of the line.

Holloway plans to donate any winnings to the United Cancer Services of Elkhart, which helped ease her late mother through pancreatic cancer treatment. Though her mother died in November, Holloway is grateful for the help the center gave her family.

"Everyone else in the family wanted to get a tattoo,” Holloway said. “But I wanted this.”

Doors to the Lerner Theatre open at 5 p.m. Thursday. Non-winning tickets must be entered by 6:15 p.m. for a chance to compete on the show.