Big jackpots are like unicorns; you’ll be very lucky to see one because they are incredibly rare. The biggest jackpots in Vegas, which can be compared in amount to the wins of many European national lotteries, must pay out in accordance with the payback percentage of the slot. If a slot has a payback percentage of 95% and has a jackpot of £1 million then you’ve got to imagine the time that it would take the machine to make that money and pay for all the smaller wins necessary to be a valid slot people will play. As the jackpots are so infrequent you’ve really got as much chance of winning one by being the lucky player in the right place at the right time as you have of being glued to the slots for hours a day, so we’ve decided to take a look at some of the biggest slot winners of all time.
The biggest slot winners to date have all come from a Vegas slot called Megabucks, although you have to realise that this slot is actually a wide area network of some 690 linked machines. As you would guess from the name (mega is old Greek for a million) the slot has a progressive jackpot which is on the rather large side, as it seeds or starts rolling at a whopping $7 million with a small percentage of every play on the wide area network of progressive slots adding a small fraction more to that jackpot. The total amount of money paid out in jackpots by the machine in its lifetime has been a phenomenal $425 million and it’s said that any player has a 50 million to 1 chance of hitting the jackpot. Obviously you would think with a machine that works across almost 700 terminals, a jackpot would be hit quite regularly, which it does, but you’ve also got to remember with Megabucks, like so many progressive slots, you’ve got to play the max bet to stand a chance of winning the big, progressive jackpot. This means that the jackpot may well have rolled in on one of the Megabucks machines, but without the max bet it wouldn’t have paid out.
Proving that lighting does strike in the same place twice, the Megabucks jackpot has actually been won two times by Elmer Sherwin. The odds of this happening are astronomical (imagine going on a trip to the moon and finding your old school bus pass there) but in a world so richly populated it was bound to happen sooner or later. Sherwin’s first win of some $4.6 million over 20 years ago must have changed his life in an amazingly positive way as he decided to donate most of his $21 million second jackpot to the Victims of the Hurricane Katrina fund, to help out the poor people who lost so much in New Orleans and the surrounding area.
As with all gaming and lottery institutions there is an attitude of responsibility around these massive jackpots and winners are not given all the money in one lump sum because of the destabilising effect a huge bank balance can have on your life. As a result the money is paid in equal annual installments ensuring that players have a chance to get to grips with wealth before blowing it all.