$3 Bet Pays Off $10 Million, Atlantic City's Best

$3 Bet Pays Off $10 Million, Atlantic City's Best
$3 Bet Pays Off $10 Million, Atlantic City's Best

ATLANTIC CITY, April 19 For Josephine Crawford, an 84-year-old retired waitress, the golden years just got a lot more golden.

About to call it quits after a night of gambling here on Tuesday, Mrs. Crawford hit a $10 million jackpot on a $3 bet at a nickel slot machine at Harrah's Atlantic City. It was the biggest jackpot in the history of casino gambling here.

Mrs. Crawford said she knew she had won something when the machine's bells went off, but when an attendant told her it was $10,010,113.48, she did not believe him.

"I said, 'Oh, come on,' " she said on Wednesday. "But he just stood there, and I figured, why is he staying there?"

Mrs. Crawford has been gambling at Atlantic City casinos since the first one opened in 1978. She said she gambled about twice a week but had never won more than $1,000 at a time. She had not decided on Wednesday whether to take the money in a 25-year annuity or in a lump-sum payment of more than $5.5 million. She has 21 days to make that call.

Mrs. Crawford is a gray-haired widow who spent 27 years waiting on tables before retiring in 1992. She lives in nearby Galloway Township with her daughter and drives a 2006 Honda Civic.

She said she was not planning a spending spree and had no immediate plans to buy a new car or a house. She has always wanted to see Italy, where her parents grew up, and wants to share the money with her two daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

"Somehow, I'll spend it," she said. "I'll spend it at the casino, and I might go to Vegas."

She hit the jackpot on Megabucks, a progressive slot machine linked to hundreds of others in Atlantic City's 12 casinos. With progressive slot machines, part of each bet goes toward the citywide jackpots, which start at $1 million. The previous biggest Atlantic City jackpot was $8.5 million in 1994.

She was playing alongside her granddaughter Alicia Weeks, 27, when they tried to find an open Wheel of Fortune machine. They could not and were headed to their hotel room when Ms. Weeks saw the red numbers on a Megabucks machine's jackpot marquee blinking $10 million. She suggested they try it.

"She said: 'Oh, that's a nickel machine. I don't want to play,' " Ms. Weeks said.

But they did. After spending about $20 with no luck, Ms. Weeks suggested they move on. Mrs. Crawford said she wanted to play $20 more and was down to her last $5 in credits when she won.

"I'm just happy I won it, for my family although they don't need any help," said Mrs. Crawford, who celebrated with family members over dinner at the casino. She had one glass of wine.

It did not take long for word of her luck to spread. Three men proposed to her after she won.

"Their wives were there, too!" Mrs. Crawford said. "One of them told me, 'You can have him.' "