Feb. 02, 2007
Pahrump retiree wins $18m jackpot
By MARK WAITE
Who says the lowly penny is a worthless coppery coin good only for paying sales tax?
Wayne, a retiree who moved to Pahrump three years ago, struck the penny megabucks jackpot at the Pahrump Nugget Casino for $18.7 million Wednesday.
Lori Dollar, marketing manager for the Nugget, said Wayne didn't know yet what he planned to do with the money. Perhaps not surprisingly, he refused to allow use of his last name.
The jackpot was struck at 12:31 p.m.
The machine turned up five bald eagles in a row, a mega jackpot on a $3 bet. Dollar said Wayne had $44 invested in the machine before he hit pay dirt.
"It's just wonderful. Golden Gaming has acquired the property two months ago. We're trying to get some good things for Pahrump," Pahrump Nugget General Manager Jeremy Jenson said. "It's great for the community. It kind of puts Pahrump on the map."
Representatives of International Gaming Technologies, who spent over three hours checking the machine after the win, said Wayne wouldn't give any interviews or consent to photographs.
"It was very calm. I think he was more in shock," Jenson said.
There weren't any bells, lights or whistles going off at the casino after the feat. The exact jackpot totaled $18,799,412.74.
Word spread quickly. One woman came by to look. She remarked, "I just want to see what a winner looks like."
The IGT representatives reset the machine back to $10 million after verifying the win. Casino employees roped off the machine with police tape during the process.
Wayne has the option of receiving a lump sum payoff or annual installments for 20 years. Dollar said he has 60 days to decide how to receive the money.
Dollar said the casino would give Wayne and his female companion a free dinner or a hotel room if he requested it.
When asked if news of the jackpot would bring more gamblers in to the casino, Dollar said, "We're just happy for the winner. We think that's great. And its the first time for the penny megabucks to hit in Nevada. That's really something. It shows it can happen anywhere, not just in Vegas."
Jenson said the Pahrump Nugget has had a $40,000 winner in keno before, the previous highest jackpot at the casino. The current Winners Hall of Fame display at the Pahrump Nugget has photos of 62 winners. They include Penny Marrs, who won $21,522 on Jan. 30, 2006, Stanley Braithwaite, who won $18,316 on Nov. 25, 2006, and William Roger and Deborah Dellett, who each won $12,481 on Dec. 30, 2006.