LOLA JEF­FER­SON

‘Split the Pot’ seller

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - BLACKHAWKS -

The United Cen­ter’s “Split the Pot” raf­fle tick­ets don’t sell them­selves. They re­quire en­er­getic and ubiq­ui­tous hawk­ers such as Lola Jef­fer­son, who has been sell­ing the tick­ets for 20 years, start­ing with the Bulls be­fore adding the Hawks nine years ago.

Jef­fer­son would stop, but where else can she feel as if she sin­gle-hand­edly raises $100,000 a year for great causes?

“I can­not give $100,000 to char­ity no mat­ter how well I do,” she said.

The Hawks and Bulls raise money at each home game for their re­spec­tive char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tions with the “Split the Pot” raf­fle, in which half the pro­ceeds go to a sin­gle win­ner and half go to the foun­da­tion.

Tick­ets are avail­able on­line, but Jef­fer­son and other sell­ers walk up and down the aisles dur­ing games, just as ven­dors do sell­ing beer and hot dogs.

Jef­fer­son has sold the win­ning ticket mul­ti­ple times, which she loves. And she has de­vel­oped a re­la­tion­ship with her “reg­u­lars.”

A fan once grabbed her sign and started sell­ing tick­ets for her. An­other time, one wanted her to take a break so they could have a meal to­gether. An­other fan at­tempted to feed her some choco­late ice cream.

“That was the weird­est prob­a­bly,” Jef­fer­son said. “It was nice, it was friendly.”

The ex­pe­ri­ence sell­ing the “Split the Pot” tick­ets has changed Jef­fer­son’s life — one of her cus­tomers helped her land a job in real es­tate, an in­dus­try in which she still works. So for Jef­fer­son, it’s not re­ally about mak­ing a few ex­tra bucks. It’s about giv­ing back and be­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment that usu­ally oozes pos­i­tiv­ity.

“You’re meet­ing a lot of fun, en­er­getic peo­ple who love the Black­hawks,” Jef­fer­son said. “It’s just fun to see. You feel that en­ergy. It’s not just sell­ing.”

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