Slots machines are devious little devils that feed on spinners’ cash for breakfast, lunch, and supper. The vast majority of players who wage a war against the one-armed bandits inevitably end up on the losing side in the long run. This is only understandable considering how heavily tilted these games are in favor of the house.
Yet, every now and then, a slot machine would drop a massive jackpot to whet the appetites of gamblers and rekindle their hopes of becoming multi-millionaires. Of course, such life-changing wins occur on rare occasions but “every dream begins with a dreamer” as activist Harriet Tubman once said.
We present to you six of the largest jackpot wins the notorious one-armed bandits have awarded so far. Some of those occurred in the landbased casino environment and were accompanied by a tragic twist of fate. Others were awarded by online gambling operators and made it to the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Biggest Slot Winners in Landbased Casinos
There are many progressive machines in landbased casinos, yet one slot rules them all. Its name? Megabucks. Its manufacturer? IGT. This machine is famed for dropping the biggest jackpot wins in history. And we do not mean in the brick-and-mortar environment only.
Megabucks is the world’s top jackpot payer holding the record for the largest slot prizes to ever hit in both landbased and online casinos. The Megabucks series first appeared across landbased gambling floors back in the 1980s.
This was the first slot machine to offer a wide-area progressive jackpot. The games are linked across all landbased casinos that offer them, with a percentage of each player’s bet going toward the rising prize pools.
Players can qualify for winning the jackpot with maximum bets of $3 (three coins with denomination of $1). Check out the largest pots this notorious machine has awarded over the years.
Megabucks Drops the Biggest Slot Jackpot Win in History
IGT’s Megabucks slot awarded one of the biggest wins in Las Vegas’ history on March 21, 2003. The record-breaking win took place at Excalibur Casino. A 25-year old man from Los Angeles decided to play the machine while waiting for a baseball game to start.
This turned out to be the best decision in his life as Megabucks rewarded him with $39.7 million in prize money. The lucky winner played $100 before the life-changing jackpot dropped. The Los Angeles engineer chose not to claim his winnings in full. Instead, he requested they paid him in annual increments of $1.5 million for the following 25 years.
Elmer Sherwin – the Veteran Who Hit a Multi-Million Win Twice
They say the odds of winning a multi-million jackpot on a slot machine are longer than those of being struck by lighting. Yet, one lucky winner managed to defy the odds not once but twice in his lifetime.
The person in question is Elmer Sherwin, a World War II veteran who scored his first life-changing win back in 1989. Sherwin collected the massive win of $4.6 million from the notorious Megabucks machine at Las Vegas’ Mirage Resort and Casino. The win occurred just hours after the luxurious resort’s grand opening took place. The big winner was 76-years old at the time of his first win.
After the unexpected multi-million windfall, Mr. Sherman commented that it was his life’s dream to pocket a Megabucks jackpot twice. It turns out dreams really do come true sometimes as this was precisely what happened to the veteran sixteen years later.
You could only imagine everyone’s surprise when Mr. Sherwin, 92-years old at the time, scored a $21.1 million prize on Megabucks again in 2005 at the Cannery Casino and Hotel in North Las Vegas. The veteran donated a significant portion of his Megabucks winnings to charities, including a relief fund for those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
At the time of his second win, Mr. Sherman shared he was willing to attempt to improve his current record by winning the progressive Megabucks jackpot for the third time, although he was also interested in trying the Wheel of Fortune machine. Unfortunately, this remained but a dream. The veteran passed away in March 2007 at the age of 94.
The Megabucks Curse or the Tragedy Behind a Record $35 Million Win
Megabucks has given rise to various myths and urban legends over the years, with some gamblers believing those who have won its jackpot are bound to suffer an untimely death. While there is no proof the “curse” of Megabucks actually exists, one winner who scored its jackpot was not so lucky after all.
The person in question was Las Vegas cocktail waitress Cynthia Jay-Brennan, 37-years old at the time of her life-changing win. In 2000, Jay-Brennan played a Megabucks machine at the now-closed Desert Inn Casino where she hit a prize of $34.9 million, the biggest progressive jackpot at the time.
After the big windfall, the winner married her boyfriend and the two intended to set out on a journey around the world together. Sadly, their plans were not meant to come to fruition. Several weeks after her record win, Jay-Brennan’s Camaro was hit by an inebriated driver at a red light.
Her sister Lela Jay, who was also in the car, was killed on the spot. Cynthia’s spine was broken which left her paralyzed from the chest down for the rest of her life. The jackpot winner remains in a wheelchair to this day and relies on her husband for simple daily tasks such as dressing or brushing her hair.
After the tragic accident, Mrs. Jay-Brennan shared she was willing to give up her entire jackpot if only she could walk again and get her sister back.
Record-Breaking Slot Wins in Online Casinos
The chance of winning an eight-figure amount is not reserved exclusively for landbased slot players. Online progressive games like Microgaming’s Mega Moolah and NetEnt’s Mega Fortune also drop mouth-watering prizes, not to mention they offer spinners the added benefits of convenience and flexibility. Here are three of the most mind-blowing wins these two big payers have awarded to online players over the years after their launch.
Mega Moolah Makes History with the Largest Online Slot Win
Microgaming’s Mega Moolah slot made the news in October 2015 after awarding the record sum of £13.2 million to Brit Jon Heywood from Cheshire. Heywood caused a bit of a frenzy with his massive win because the slot’s jackpot has been building steadily for quite some time before it hit.
The 26-year old British soldier won the enormous prize at Betway Casino, betting as little as £0.25 per spin. This was Mr. Heywood’s first experience with this gambling site. The player was watching television at the time. Later he commented he was more interested in what was going on on the TV screen and hardly pay attention to his gameplay before he hit the jackpot.
The British soldier had played for 25 minutes only before his big win occurred. When the jackpot bonus game appeared on his screen and awarded him the eight-figure prize, he was transfixed and could not believe his eyes.
The timing of the windfall was perfect considering Heywood had experienced a far-from-perfect year, marked by the passing of his grandfather and his father’s urgent need of lung and heart transplants.
After his win, the British soldier, who has served in Afghanistan, commented that his top priority is helping his sick father with the best possible treatment money could buy. Of course, he shared he intended to spend a portion of his jackpot to buy a little something for himself.
The winner decided to replace his old Fiat Punto vehicle with a luxurious Bentley Continental GT. This was the biggest online slot jackpot win in history at the time, earning Heywood a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
NetEnt's Top-Payer Mega Fortune Awards a €17.8 Million to a Poker Player
NetEnt’s Mega Fortune progressive slot held the previous record for the biggest online jackpot win before Jon Heywood pocketed £13.2 million in prize money from Mega Moolah. On January 20, 2013, a 40-year old man from Helsinki, Finland, was awarded the hefty sum of €17.8 million.
The man, who opted to preserve his anonymity, won the enormous pot at the Aland-based online gambling site Paf with a bet as small as €0.25. Little else is known about this big winner except for the fact he was actually a poker player.
A day after his big win, the man shared in an interview with Paf that he had been a customer of the gambling company for two to three years before he hit the jackpot. However, he was playing mainly for small stakes. When asked about what he plans to do with the money, the Finn responded he had intentions to buy himself a nice car and hire a personal trainer to get him back in shape.
A Norway University Student Becomes €11.7 Million Richer
A couple of years before the €17.8-million its windfall, the progressive Mega Fortune awarded €11.7 million in prize money to an anonymous university student from the picturesque Hordaland county in Norway. Only 20-years old at the time, the student was struggling to fall asleep and decided to kill some time by playing Mega Fortune at Betsson Casino.
The interesting thing about this jackpot win is that the student in question was using free spins he was previously awarded by the online casino. He was not a big fan of the slots, as he later revealed, but preferred to wager on sports at Betsson’s sportsbook.
However, he decided to try his luck on Mega Fortune after he noticed the massive sum the jackpot had risen to. The student was so flabbergasted by this life-changing win that he laughed and cried simultaneously when he saw the eight-figure amount appear on his computer screen.
Gambling operator Betsson promised to assist the young winner in finding professional consultants to help him manage his newly generated riches.
Jackpots and Slot Machine Malfunctions
Katrina Bookman hits a jackpot win of $42.9 million
Jackpot win of $8.6 million
There is nothing worse than being led to believe you have won a huge jackpot only to have your hopes of becoming a multi-millionaire completely shattered. And yet, this is precisely what happened to a woman named Katrina Bookman.
In August 2016, Bookman visited the Resorts World Casino in New York where she played the Sphinx slot. Imagine her surprise when a jackpot win of $42.9 million appeared on the screen of the penny machine she was playing. The happy winner even took a selfie with the slot she believed had changed her life forever.
Unfortunately, when Ms. Bookman attempted to claim her prize, a Resorts World employee explained to her the slot she played malfunctioned and did not really reward her with the life-changing jackpot. The maximum amount any given player could win on this machine was fixed at $6,500.
Instead of leaving the casino millions of dollars richer, Bookman was offered a stake dinner on the house. The disgruntled “winner” sued Resorts World, citing “mental anguish” as the cause.View more...