Nancy Konitz was cooking the gravy for Christmas dinner at her parents’ house in Florida when her cell phone ignited. Not recognizing the number, she continued to perform due diligence.
“But then my mother, Gloria, told me to answer the call,” Nancy recalled. “She said, ‘It’s Christmas… Somebody wants to wish you a Merry Christmas.’ So I did. That’s when I forgot the gravy and almost fainted.”
On the other line was Rocky Wirtz, chairman of the Blackhawks.
“I am a huge fan, so I’d seen him on TV interviews and recognized the voice,” Nancy went on. “Right away, I kind of lost it. He doesn’t know me and he wasn’t going to be calling me on a holiday if he didn’t have something to tell me.”
Indeed, Rocky informed Nancy that she had the winning ticket for an authentic 2015 Stanley Cup ring as part of a raffle that produced over $250,000 for Chicago Blackhawks Charities. The ring was donated by Jostens, who designed the masterpiece, and Nancy received it before Sunday night’s game at the United Center against the St. Louis Blues.
“I bought 10 tickets at $2 each way back in October when the raffle started,” Nancy said. “I had completely forgotten about it. Then Mr. Wirtz called, and honestly I became a bit dizzy.”
Rocky placed the call from his home at about 2 p.m. on Christmas, as per the raffle’s stipulations. He noted that the 14-carat ring containing 355 diamonds is the only one besides the Jonathan Toews replica donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame bestowed on anyone outside the Blackhawks family.
“We did it first in 2013 after we won the Cup,” Rocky said. “It’s not an original idea of ours. The Boston Bruins thought of it after they won in 2011. We sold more than 8,000 orders at an average of $30 or so this year, which was more than we sold in 2013. It’s a great way to raise funds for a good cause. My only concern was making the call on Christmas Day. I didn’t want to be intrusive. But Nancy seemed pretty happy about it all.”
Happy indeed. Nancy wears Blackhawks gear to her job every game day, a perk thoroughly endorsed by President and CEO Bill Weiland and COO Christine Tzumas, who own Presence Marketing/Dynamic Presence, an organic food broker in South Barrington, Ill. Hockey fans abound at that business where they stage a Blackhawks party every year, anyway.
“Now this year we’ll have two parties,” Nancy said. “And this ring will be the star of the show. The ring party will be Feb. 2, when the Blackhawks are playing in Colorado. I still can’t believe this is all happening. It’s so surreal. It’s the greatest Christmas present I ever got, for sure, and the best day I’ve ever had besides the day I was married and when we had our two children.”
Nancy wore a brand new Toews jersey for Sunday night’s private celebration. She was accompanied by her husband, Robert, who plays hockey in a men’s league. The Konitzes made a weekend of it, staying downtown with their daughters, Danielle and Katelyn, and Uncle Milt. Premium seats were included in the prize, along with hotel accommodations, a tour of the United Center and gift bags.
Also, the Konitzes received $500 for meals, ground transportation and $6,165 to mitigate tax liability. The ring is valued in excess of $47,000.
“Will I wear it?” Nancy said. “Oh, no. The first thing I’m going to do is insure it. Then I’ll put it in a safety deposit box, except for our ring party. My only request for actually receiving the ring tonight was to ask my husband to make sure my elbow is in his hand when the moment arrives.”
But with Robert close by, Nancy stayed relatively steady as Rocky waved her into a quiet corner of the Sonja Henie Room and unveiled the ring with “KONITZ” engraved on the side.
Duty compelled us to inquire of Nancy Konitz how the gravy turned out.
“I have no idea about that,” she said. “It took me two hours at least to stop shaking. And I never even ate dinner on Christmas Day. I pretty much stopped cooking when the phone call came, and when I finally relaxed a little bit, I started making phone calls of my own. Quite a few people I know also bought raffle tickets. I had to let them know who won.”