In the world of gambling, there are those who dream of winning big and those who actually do. For some, hitting the jackpot means more than just a pile of cash, it’s a life-changing event that can forever alter their destiny. In the United States, some of the biggest casino winnings in history have been recorded. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most memorable and record-breaking casino wins in US history.
- Cynthia Jay-Brennan
In 2000, cocktail waitress Cynthia Jay-Brennan was celebrating her mother’s birthday at the Desert Inn Casino in Las Vegas when she hit a $34.9 million jackpot on the Megabucks slot machine. Jay-Brennan had been working at the casino for nine years and had only been playing the machine for about five minutes when she won the life-changing sum.
Tragically, just six weeks later, Jay-Brennan was involved in a car accident that killed her sister and left her paralyzed from the chest down. Despite the tragedy, Jay-Brennan has remained positive, saying that she is grateful for the time she had with her sister and for the financial stability the win has provided her.
- Elmer Sherwin
Elmer Sherwin, a World War II veteran, was 76 years old when he won $4.6 million playing the Megabucks slot machine at the Mirage in Las Vegas in 1989. He used some of his winnings to travel the world with his wife and eventually moved to a retirement community in Las Vegas, where he continued to play the slots until he won again, this time for $21 million at the Cannery Casino in 2005.
Sherwin donated some of his winnings to charity and said he planned to use the rest to travel with his wife and help his family.
- Johanna Huendl
In 2002, Johanna Huendl was on vacation in Las Vegas when she decided to try her luck at the slot machines. On the last day of her trip, she put $170 into the Megabucks machine at the Bally’s Casino and won a jackpot of $22.6 million.
Huendl, a retiree from California, said she was shocked and overwhelmed by the win, but planned to use some of the money to help her family and travel the world.
In 2016, a woman from Hawaii was visiting the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas when she hit the jackpot on the Megabucks slot machine. The woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, won a staggering $10.7 million.
According to the casino, the woman had been playing the machine for about three hours before hitting the jackpot, and had wagered just $3 before winning the life-changing sum.
- Kerry Packer
Australian billionaire Kerry Packer was known for his love of high-stakes gambling, and in 1997 he won an estimated $20 million at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. Packer was playing blackjack and baccarat at the exclusive VIP room when he had his big win.
Packer, who passed away in 2005, was one of the wealthiest men in Australia, and was known for his extravagant lifestyle and philanthropy.
- William Lee Bergstrom
William Lee Bergstrom is perhaps best known for his incredible gambling story, which inspired the book “The Man With The $100,000 Breasts: And Other Gambling Stories” by Michael Konik. In 1980, Bergstrom walked into Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas with two suitcases—one containing $777,000 in cash and the other empty. He placed a bet on a single roll of the dice, and won $1 million.
Bergstrom disappeared for three days after his win, but returned to the casino and placed another bet, this time losing it all. He then left the casino and was never seen again, and is believed to have committed suicide a few years later.
- Archie Karas
Archie Karas is one of the most famous gamblers in history, known for his incredible winning streak in the 1990s. Karas arrived in Las Vegas with just $50 in his pocket, but turned that into $40 million over the course of three years by playing poker, craps, and other casino games.
Karas is also known for his high-stakes games against some of the world’s top poker players, including Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese. Despite his incredible success, Karas lost it all in a short period of time, and has since been arrested and convicted of cheating at blackjack.
In conclusion, the world of gambling can be both exciting and unpredictable, and these record-breaking wins serve as a reminder of the incredible highs and lows that can come with playing games of chance. While some of these winners have used their newfound wealth to travel the world and help others, others have lost it all in a short period of time. Ultimately, the thrill of the game and the possibility of hitting it big will continue to draw players to the casino floor for years to come.