The Jackpots and the Generous: Casino Winners Who Give It All Away
Just imagine: It’s Sunday, November 30, 2014, you live in Las Vegas and your old friend from out of town has decided to pay you a visit. You’re not a keen gambler but he really loves the action down at the strip. He’s up for a good time and you’re a trusted wingman.
You both head off to 221 North Rampart Boulevard, where the JW Marriot owned Rampart Casino is open for business. The Rampart bills itself as ‘the place where savvy gamers prefer to play’.
In reality, the Rampart Casino is a modest casino – popular with an older and more local crowd. It lacks the Bellagio bells and whistles. It doesn’t have the Steve Wynn wonder factor. It’s not the online option.
Stake and Steak
What it does have however are great slots, friendly staff, a bowling alley, a movie theatre, and a bingo parlour. Not forgetting, a highly-rated steakhouse and both Mexican and Italian restaurants.
Our anonymous hero is not a ‘savvy gamer’ but he enjoys the occasional flutter on the slots. As his excited friend works his way around the casino floor, he decides to gamble a meagre $20 on the infamous Megabucks progressive slot – just one of more than 1,000 machines ringing away.
Suddenly, the lights flash, bells ring. People lift their heads to see what’s causing the commotion. A smiling floor manager strides towards you. You’ve just won a jackpot – it’s massive – it’s huge – it’s mighty – it’s a financial behemoth. It’s what the business calls ‘a life changer’.
Megabucks Back Story
At this point, it’s worth giving you a little history about the Megabucks Progressive Slot Machine. First things first: if you want to play Megabucks, it has to be Vegas, baby.
The game is one of the most popular slots in Las Vegas and has created a clutch of millionaires in its 20 year old history. To win the jackpot, players need to gamble just three coins – $3. The primary jackpot is generated by a 750 game network, across 136 different Nevada casinos.
(Actually, there are Megabucks slots in California, New Jersey, and Mississippi but they don’t take a share from the massive Nevada pot. Their progressive jackpots are considerably smaller).
The odds of winning the Megabucks jackpot are pretty long – estimate vary from 1 in 17 million to 1 in 50 million. Whatever way you skin it, it was a very good night for our lucky Las Vegas local.
Collection Plate Karma
Back to the story. Now more than $14 million richer, our hero clearly thinks divine intervention was a factor behind his astronomical win. Just a few days after hitting the jackpot, he announces his intention to give all his winnings to charity.
He is keeping his identity secret but plans to build a new house of worship for his church, which currently holds its services in the local high school gymnasium. Let’s hope they reserve a front row pew for him and let’s hope God fast tracks him.
Any money left after the construction of the new church is to be donated to a variety of good causes throughout Las Vegas. Saintly behaviour from a man who lives in Sin City.
Our hero is the not the first jackpot winner to shrug his or her shoulders are hand the money to a good cause.
In 2013, Canadian Tom Crist won $40 million in the Calgary Lotto Max. Crist heard the news when he was enjoying a trip to Palm Springs. His wife of 33 years had died two years earlier of cancer. Crist decided immediately he would give all the money to cancer charities in a bid to beat the disease.
In Northern Ireland, EuroMillions jackpot winner Margaret Loughrey won £26 million on her way home from the local job centre. Loughrey was living on just £58 a week when she won the money
“I spent half of my adult life unemployed and the other half on the minimum wage so I know only too well how hard things can be,” she said. True to her word, Loughrey has already given more than half of her fortune away.
Finally, we head to Germany for the bittersweet story of Angela Maier. Maier was 63 when she won £330,000 playing the German national lottery.
Once the news of her win became public, the care home where her husband had died wrote her a letter asking her to pay towards his medical expenses. Instead of paying the bill, Maier drank five bottles of Champagne and tore up all 800 of her €500 notes and flushed them down the toilet.
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