There is more to the stories of the biggest gambling wins in the world than the amount of money won by those lucky players and punters. They also provide fodder for daydreams, inspire us to keep playing the games we love, and make us gasp with surprise, wonder, and, occasionally, horror.
The following stories about 6 incredibly lucky players might get you making a few imaginary shopping lists. They may even offer you some food for thought while doing so.
Now, without any further ado, let’s take a look at who won what.
£1.45 Million Accumulator Win
One of the biggest sports betting wins the world has ever seen happened in March 2011. Steve Whiteley, a plumbing engineer based in Devon, the United Kingdom, placed a £2 accumulator bet on 6 horses to win a selection of races at tracks in the UK and Ireland listed on the Exeter Tote Jackpot.
His selection of Semicolon, Black Phantom, Ammunition, Mr Bennett, Lundy Sky, and Lupita, turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made. Every single one of them won their respective race, which meant Whiteley won a fantastic £1.45 million.
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$4.6 Million and $21 Million
76-year-old World War II veteran Elmer Sherwin was one of the many players who streamed into Las Vegas’ Mirage Casino on 22 November 1989, the day it first opened its doors. He was one of the players who enjoyed a few spins on the Megabucks machine, which was the first progressive slot in the world.
Unlike those other players, however, Sherwin won the $4.6-million jackpot. He used his huge payout to travel around the world. Later, in September 2005, the then-92-year-old played Megabucks at Vegas’ Cannery Casino and Hotel, and won a jackpot of $21,147,947.
This time, he put the money to very different uses. He kept some to help support his son and daughter-in-law, and then donated a large portion to the relief fund set up after Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of Florida and Louisiana.
As Much As $40 Million
In 1997, billionaire Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer visited Las Vegas, where he indulged in Blackjack and Baccarat games at the MGM Grand Casino. According to reports, he won the equivalent of AU$33 million.
Packer was also said to have been a regular big winner when he played at casinos when he visited the UK for an annual holiday. He went on to lose the equivalent of a whopping AU$28 million in a 3-week losing streak at a casino in London.
In 2000, cocktail waitress Cynthia Jay Brennan experienced a fairy tale moment. While celebrating her future mother-in-law’s birthday in Las Vegas, she decided to spin a few slot reels.
We can only imagine what the birthday girl must have thought when Cynthia won an unbelievable $34,959,458.56. For the following 9 weeks, her life was a magical one. She married her fiancé, spoiled herself with a new Camaro, among other purchases, and started making travel plans – and then tragedy struck. While driving with her sister Lela, a drunk driver, who had been arrested 16 times previously, collided with her vehicle at a red traffic light. The drunk driver sustained a few slight injuries, but Lela died on impact, and Cynthia’s spine was shattered, which left her paralysed from the waist down.
In 2003, an anonymous 25-year-old software engineer from Los Angeles on a visit to family in Las Vegas. After his uncle told him about some of the massive jackpots up for grabs, he decided to give slot reels a spin.
In an interview at the time, the man said he had bet $100 on the machine. He was distracted for a moment, but his attention quickly reverted to the machine when it announced he had just won a phenomenal $39,713,982.25 jackpot. He opted to have his lucky win paid in annual $1.5 million-instalments for 25 years.
May 2013 was a good month for Florida grandmother Gloria McKenzie. It began when a kind shopper in front of her in a queue at her local supermarket in Zephyrhills let McKenzie go first.
She bought a Powerball Lottery ticket, and probably did not think much more of it until the draw. The moment in the supermarket must have taken on an entirely new significance, because McKenzie’s numbers turned out to be lucky enough to make her that lottery’s largest single winner. She won a jaw-dropping $590.5 million. According to reports, the 84-year-old asked for a lump sum of half the prize, which made more sense than being paid the full amount in instalments over 30 years.
These stories prove that you never know when or where your luck is going to come through. They also are good lessons to appreciate the good moments for what they are, when they happen.