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Indiana woman spins life-changing jackpot on penny slot

28 November 2007

Judy Rowe has never been to Las Vegas, but after winning $708,115.55 on a penny Wheel of Fortune Super Spin wide-area progressive at the Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Michigan, two months ago, she may think about going.

She's a small-town girl, having lived all of her 44 years in the north central Indiana community of Warsaw. Her windfall means more than frivolous luxuries. For Judy it meant making plans to buy a house and purchase a brand new car for the first time in her life.

"I bought a 2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara," Judy said. "Originally I was looking for something a couple years old so I wouldn't have to spend so much, but my boyfriend, Mikel, had a fit, saying 'Oh no, you will have a new vehicle because you deserve it'."

"We love going to the casino," Judy said. "I only play the slots. A couple of times I've played quarter machines, and on occasion I play dollars, but normally I'm around the nickel or penny denominations."

Judy and Mikel were attracted to the Wheel of Fortune Super Spin during a previous trip to Four Winds. It's part of the new genre of "community" slot play in which multiple players can participate in the same bonus. The large bonus wheel is surrounded by nine player stations with extra wide seating so two can play together.

"We vowed it would be the first machine we'd play the next time we came," Judy said. "The game is very popular, and when we arrived there were no spots open. Mikel started to walk off to play something else, but I encouraged him to stay and wait for somebody to leave. Sure enough, right after I said that somebody got up."

They sat down, and after about 45 minutes had lost $700 playing max coins of 400 pennies ($4) per spin, the amount which is required in order to be eligible to win the progressive jackpot.

"At that point I was ready to get up and leave, but Mikel insisted we stay for a while longer, saying that he had a 'good feeling'," Judy continued. "We were taking turns hitting the button. On my spin I hit the 'stop reels' button, which displays the screen instantly without having to wait for the reels to stop one by one."

All that Judy recalls about the moment is Mikel jumping up and down. She was oblivious to the fact she had just made a score of nearly three-quarters of a million dollars.

"I saw I had hit all the Wheel of Fortunes but I didn't look at the screen to see what I had won," Judy said. "The lights were going off on the machine and I thought maybe I hit a couple of thousand.

"I was looking at Mikel trying to figure out why he was going crazy. He yelled, 'we just hit the big one, baby'. I couldn't believe my eyes. The most I had ever won before was $1,600.

"Mikel is the high roller. He's the one who wanted to bet max. I normally don't bet max because I can't see spending that kind of money. But he says you're not going to hit anything really big if you don't. If we would have hit that and not been betting the max, I don't know what it would have paid but I'd have probably been in big trouble."

Four Winds officials invited them for dinner in the steak house, but they were too excited to eat. They did, however, take the casino up on an offer to spend the weekend in one of the hotel's plush celebrity suites.

CASINO NEWS: Four Winds Casino Resort is owned by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, which, along with 300 other tribal casinos across the nation, belongs to a 16-state Native American progressive gaming network. This enables Four Winds to offer wide-area progressive slot jackpots unlike the other casino properties in this region which are state regulated.

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John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp