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Bingo player hits the jackpot at Legion

Fifty numbers just made a Rosemount American Legion Bingo player a very happy woman.

Kristen Schaeppi, a 27-year-old Eagan resident, won $20,553.50 March 13 playing a statewide Bingo game at the Legion.

Schaeppi has been playing Bingo for years -- she got started playing with her grandmother, she said -- but before last week the best she'd done was $150 or $200. During the jackpot game, though, things just started going her way. To win, players had to cover all of the spaces on their card.

"I noticed I started getting the numbers one right after another," Schaeppi said.

And when she won?

"I don't think I've ever heard someone holler 'Bingo!' quite so loud," Legion gambling manager John Edmund said. "Usually you have trouble hearing them over the Bingo machine."

Schaeppi, a regular at the Thursday night Legion Bingo games, wasn't sure what to make of the win, for which she'll take home about $14,000 after taxes.

"I was shocked," she said. "I was kind of worried I might have misdaubed something. I was a little scared I might not have won."

She won, though. Now she's trying to figure out what to do with her prize.

Before she and her boyfriend started playing the jackpot games at the Legion they jokingly said they'd split their winnings. Schaeppi is living up to her part of the deal. She and her boyfriend plan to pay some bills and take a trip, though they're not sure yet where they'll go. Her first thought was Nashville.

"I like country music, so it's someplace I've always wanted to go," she said.

Schaeppi is the first person to win since the progressive jackpot started in February. The jackpot is an attempt to allow local Bingo games to compete with the bigger prizes offered by casinos.

"It gets some of the charitable gambling halls like Legions and VFWs and Lion's clubs to be able to offer a payout that's comparable to casinos," said John Edmund, the Rosemount Legion's gambling manager. "Last (Thursday) there were were approximately 30 Bingo halls or Legions or bars participating."

Schaeppi won in 50 numbers. If no one had covered their card by the time 53 numbers had been drawn the jackpot would have rolled over to another day and players would have been competing for a $1,000 consolation prize.