The superstition surrounding Friday the 13th as day of ominously bad luck is well chronicled. However, Friday, September 13, 2019, proved to be a red-letter day, for all the right reasons, for one female gambler from Carlisle, Pennsylvania in the Northeastern United States.
During the evening of the ‘unluckiest date of the year’, the unidentified woman had been reportedly been playing ‘Divine Fortune’ – a progressive jackpot slot offering from HollywoodCasino.com – for less than an hour on a desktop computer when she filled all fifteen reel positions with ‘wild’ golden Pegasus symbols. That is the combination required to win the so-called ‘Mega Jackpot’, which increases spin-by-spin, with no upper limit, until it is won; on this occasion, the Mega Jackpot stood at a healthy $40,511.69,
Divine Fortune is, in fact, the only online progressive jackpot slot available in the state of Pennsylvania. However, unlike other slots of this type, which require players to stake the maximum amount allowable, per spin, to win the primary jackpot, Divine Fortune allows the Mega Jackpot to be won for any stake. Indeed, the lucky lady in question did so by betting less than half the maximum stake allowed. Rich Criado, General Manager of iCasino at Penn National Gaming, which owns and operates HollywoodCasino.com, said, “We’re thrilled to be able to offer these big win opportunities to Pennsylvania players.”
According to one estimate, based on the number of stops and the number of stops corresponding to a jackpot symbol on each reel, the probability of winning the ‘Megabucks’ progressive jackpot is 1 in 49.8 million spins. Nevertheless, the late Elmer Sherwin, who died in 2007 at the age of 93, defied astronomical odds – in the order of trillions to one – to win the jackpot not once, but twice, at two different Las Vegas casinos, sixteen years apart.
Sherwin was already a 76-year-old retiree when, on November 22, 1989, he lined up the Megabucks symbols for the first time at The Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip, which had only opened to the public earlier that day, and collected $4.65 million for his $3 stake. According to a spokesman for The Mirage, Sherwin played for about an hour-and-a-half and invested about $100 before winning what was, at the time, claimed to be the largest jackpot even won on a slot machine in Las Vegas.
Evidently not entirely satisfied with winning the progressive jackpot once, Sherwin continued to pursue what he later called his ‘life’s dream’ of a second Megabucks win for the next sixteen years. The stars, or at least the Megabucks symbols, aligned for a second time at the Cannery Casino in Downtown Las Vegas on September 16, 2005, and Sherwin collected a further $21.1 million. By now aged 92, Sherwin donated much of his winnings to charitable causes, including to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which had caused catastrophic damage to cities along the Gulf Coast, including New Orleans, the previous month.