A $3 million jackpot from a penny machine

Click your red slippers together and win a fortune

What would you do if all of a sudden you had a cool 3 million dollars at your disposal? Buy property? Quit your job and take a vacation? Save it for the future? For most of us, these are random dreams, but for a lucky few, such things actually happen.

Within the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, real lives can change suddenly in a moment. Gambling games and slot machines can be a lot of fun, with the occasional adrenaline rush of a sudden win. But for a lucky few, such wins can be major and life changing.

Take Dorothy Reynolds, for example, an ordinary resident of California, a grandmother and great-grandmother, whose life was changed forever one evening during a family vacation. Christmas came early for Dorothy when a fun family visit to her casino of choice yielded a giant win of almost 3 million dollars from a slot machine.

The Vegas experience

Dorothy is a fan of the famous Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, and routinely travels there twice a year with family and extended family to play the machines and have some fun. On this particular trip she was joined not only by her husband, but also by her daughter, son-in law, six grandchildren and even a great-grandchild for a weeklong holiday of pleasure. The whole family loves the Vegas experience!

Dorothy had been playing the Wizard of Oz machine at the casino. She was certainly showing some commitment as she spent three hours on the machine, and $500 before her dedication paid off. The win was in fact a cool 2.9 million dollars.

Dorothy’s choice of machine was no accident. In fact, because her name was Dorothy, Judy Garland’s character in the famous film, she felt that this was fated to be her winning machine.

Planet Hollywood presented Dorothy ceremoniously with the first check of her winning yield – a cool $112,222. Dorothy celebrated this first check of many by taking a trip to the slot machines to play with her daughter. Her slot machine of choice? The Wizard of Oz machine at Planet Hollywood! That shows some real commitment!

The casino’s manager was delighted with the payout, saying, “This is a place where millionaires are made.” He described it as a major aspect of his job satisfaction to see winners in the casino.

Future plans

Dorothy is planning to spend Christmas with family, and decided that their Christmas presents may be something out of the ordinary this year. In the meantime, she is considering her option of whether to take the rest of the payout as a lump sum, or in increments over the next ten or twenty years. Each option has different taxation implications.

Whatever Dorothy decides to do with the handsome payment, it seems likely that she won’t be giving up on Las Vegas or the fun of slot machines and gambling pleasure any time soon! Trusting her intuition has certainly paid off for her.



The Wisconsin Megabucks Lottery has been drawn on Wednesday and Saturday evenings since its inception in 1992. This lottery should not be confused with its nationwide, predecessor to the Powerball. In fact, to differentiate between the two Wisconsin’s Megabucks used to be called ‘Wisconsin’s Very Own Megabucks’, and, unlike the nationwide lottery, Wisconsin’s Very Own Megabucks has survived and thrived to this day.

How it works

The game itself is a simple, six-ball draw with the balls numbering 1 through to 49. For only $1 you buy the minimum bet of two panels (a panel is a set of six numbers). There are various prizes available if three or more of the drawn numbers match your ticket. If you match all six numbers however, then there is a multi-million dollar jackpot to be won.

To spice things up, every February the ‘Lightning Ball’ makes an appearance. This takes the form of an extra number on every third set of two panels which can be matched to any winning number. For example, to get three numbers on your ticket only needs two matches from a panel, plus the Lightning Ball, which automatically equates to a third winning number. This makes it far easier to win more often, and win bigger.

However, if you have five matching numbers in a panel, plus the Lightning Ball this, unfortunately does not entitle you to the coveted jackpot. Nevertheless, you can still walk away with a cool $10,000, which is not to be sniffed at.

The rare and potentially life-changing jackpot remains out of reach to all except those with the exact, matching six numbers. Whilst the odds may seem a little too wide for some, the elusive jackpot is still a considerable attraction for many lottery players; and of course, every so often the right numbers match perfectly, with potentially multi-million dollar consequences!

The lucky winners

Take the case of Richard Duening, Barbara Knauf and Curtis Lienau, who began syndicating together in Duening’s auto shop in Sheboygan. After Knauf heard the other two discussing the lottery the trio began meeting regularly to enjoy a coffee together and play the lottery. In November 2008 they hit the jackpot, winning an incredible $9.1 million.

For veteran Napolean Elvord it was the accidental purchase of a Megabucks ticket instead of his usual Powerball one that won him over $14 million. If it he hadn’t been asked about his ticket by staff at his local Madison store though he might never have realised. The winnings enabled him to get a much-needed kidney transplant.

The biggest Wisconsin Megabucks winner to date was a humble high school teacher. In May 2015 Milwaukee’s John Rumpel, a father of two, bought the winning ticket whilst buying milk at his local store. He walked out of the shop door with a pint of milk and what would be a $22.2 million jackpot. The Rumpel family said the money would be used to pay off college loans, and allow them to take some valuable time off work.

Christopher Columbus

Nowadays the name of Christopher Columbus is synonymous with the discovery of the ‘New World’. But it was only due to perseverance, and a healthy amount of luck, that the fateful voyage of 1492 ever began, let alone returned.

It is well-known that Columbus’ discovery was accidental – his original proposal was to set sail west to reach Asia. This was probably because the formerly stable European trade routes east to Asia were threatened by the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, meaning new trade routes would be crucial.

Despite this Columbus’ proposal was almost killed off before it had even started. To embark on such a journey he needed the backing of one of the European powers, so he had to approach the royal courts with his proposals. Unfortunately, his proposal was deemed too risky by almost all analysts of the time, and four European nations rejected his proposals.

He was therefore extremely fortunate when Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias discovered a route to Asia heading south past the Cape of Good Hope. Possibly fearing Portuguese dominance, or just keeping their options open, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile (modern Spain) together agreed to fund his expedition, despite being receiving advice to the contrary.

His first voyage set out on August 3rd, 1492 on a long and arduous sea journey. During the journey the compass on the ship stopped pointing towards the North Star, which prompted members of the crew to become deeply concerned; some of them even threatened to return to Spain. It was fortunate for Columbus that he was such a trusted astronomer, so the crew listened to him and continued on.

After five-weeks aboard ship they reached the Bahamas, where fortune once again shone down on Columbus. After such a long voyage, had they encountered hostile natives it could’ve been devastating. As it was, the first inhabitants the expedition came across were friendly and peaceful. Relatively few of the natives they came across throughout the voyage were hostile. This was fortunate for the Europeans – although they had advanced technology the expedition was made up of sailors rather than soldiers, and they were few in number.

Getting to the Americas was not the only challenge they faced – the expedition also had to make the return journey back home. On the homeward voyage a huge storm separated the expedition, and one of the ships landed in the Portuguese-owned Azores. Some members of the crew were taken prisoner, but luckily for Columbus he was not amongst them. After some negotiation the prisoners were released.

Columbus’ expedition might’ve failed spectacularly he Portuguese explorations had not been successful enough to concern the Spanish; or if his crew had not trusted him on the outward voyage and had decided to turn back; or if the native tribes had killed his crew upon arrival; or even if the Portuguese had captured him in the Azores. Even a bad storm could have simply wrecked the expedition ships. But fortune smiled upon him time after time, and the ‘discoverer of the Americas’ today is far more than just a historical footnote.