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Everyone who buys a lotto ticket or places a bet dreams of winning big. Most ordinary gamblers don’t win the big jackpots, but a few do. 2020 was a challenging year, except for people who won huge jackpots. Look at the player that won $20,057,734 playing Mega Moolah at a Canadian online casino or the gambler at Sweden’s Lucky Casino who won the €14,239,532 Mega Moolah jackpot on 17 August 2020. The latter is the fourth-highest win at an online casino and the highest in Sweden.
Who are the highest winners? Here are the stories of seven ordinary gamblers who won big.
In 2015, Afghanistan veteran, Jon Heywood was working at a minimum wage job. He decided to deposit £30 with betway.com to play the Mega Moolah slot game. He said he was playing at 25p a spin when the jackpot came up within seven minutes.
Jon won £13,213,838, making him the most significant jackpot winner at an online casino. At the time, he said he wanted to use some of the money on medical treatment for his father and swap his Fiat Punto for a yellow Bentley.
However, the largest progressive jackpot win still belongs to a land-based casino.
A 25-year-old software engineer from Los Angeles won the largest recorded slots jackpot in 2003. While visiting family in the Las Vegas area, he decided to try his luck at the Excalibur Hotel on the strip.
After playing $100 on a Megabucks slot, he won the jackpot of $39,713,982. Even though this anonymous man has the record for winning the largest jackpot ever, he was still not as lucky as the next ordinary gambler.
Elmer enjoyed casinos ever since he was old enough to gamble, even though he never won anything substantial. In November 1989, the 79-year-old man’s luck was about to change. Only nine hours after the Mirage Casino opened on the Las Vegas strip, Elmer won a $4.6 million jackpot. He had been playing the Megabucks machine for about ninety minutes and spent only $100.
Sixteen years later, at the age of 92, he won his second jackpot of $21.1 million. His second win was at the Cannery Casino in Downtown Las Vegas. Sherwin used his first winnings to travel, but he donated most of this prize to charitable causes, including relief for Hurricane Katrina victims. Elmer Sherwin was not the only elderly gambler to win twice.
On 15 November 1998, a 67-year-old retired flight attendant put $300 into a Megabucks slot machine in the Palace Station hotel in Las Vegas. She only intended to play with $100. Her mistake led to her winning a $27,580,8779 payout.
Impressive as this is, the truly unique part of the story is that she had won $680,000 at the same casino a few months before, playing the Wheel of Fortune slot. Ordinary gamblers don’t only win on the machines; our next contender tried a very different game.
Patricia, a novice gambler, found herself in the record books when she agreed to accompany her friend, John Capra, to the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa. She played slot machines for a while, leaving John to play poker.
Patricia soon became bored and decided to try something different. Seeing the Craps Tables, she convinced her friend to show her how to play the game. Crowds began to form around the table as she kept rolling the dice without crapping out. This New Jersey grandmother ended her evening in the record books with 154 consecutive dice rolls without rolling a seven.
The Bingo 3000 hall in Coatbridge, Scotland, produced this big winner in 2008. Soraya, a mother of four, won £1,167,795, which she shared with her neighbour, Agnes O’ Neill. The two friends had a prearranged pact to share their winnings.
At the time, Soraya said that she wasn’t sure what she would do with her winnings and elected to stay at her job. Tragically, her neighbour Agnes passed away in her sleep two months after receiving her share of the winnings.
Even ordinary Canadian gamblers have won big. Kevin was playing Caribbean Stud Poker in the Venetian Las Vegas when he claimed the Sands Millionaire Progressive Jackpot in 2018. He had been placing $5 side bets with each hand in the hopes of claiming a larger prize.
Luck was with him as he was dealt a royal flush. The Ontario native scooped the jackpot of $1,114,079 that evening. Kevin claimed that he never looked at his hand before betting and let the dealer flip the cards for him. His only strategy is always to play the bonus bet to qualify for the jackpot.
Everyone wants to win a big prize at the casino. Perhaps we dream of rolling a record-breaking streak at Craps. The truth is that few of us ever do.
The seven lucky amateurs that we discussed here are indeed the exception to the rule. There is nothing wrong with dreaming, but the gambler that walks into a casino expecting to leave a millionaire is bound to be disappointed.
Whether you choose to place your bets online or at a land-based casino, always treat gambling as a leisure activity. The tables and the slots have produced their fair share of wealthy winners, but the elusive jackpot will remain forever out of reach for most of us. That is okay, as long as we keep to the budget and don’t end up selling the house to pay our debts.