Harold McDowell, 85, defied 20-million-to-1 odds on Saturday to take a cool million home to his wife, who had just been declared cancer-free.
A straight flush of diamonds turned his $5 bet into one million right before his eyes after he bet on a 6-Card Bonus in Three Card Poker in the Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City. He was already riding rather high after finding out just 24 hours before that his wife had beaten both liver and colon cancers.
“I happened to be playing next to my wife. I had my back to her. I turned around said, ‘I just won a million dollars,’” McDowell remembered, telling the New York Post. “She told me, ‘You’re full of crap.’” But he was not. When the news sunk in, he did not know how to react. “I was dumbfounded,” he said. “I sat there like an idiot.”
Despite the shocking good fortune, McDowell had no trouble identifying his favorite moment of those fateful 24 hours. “It was better news that she’s healthy — money isn’t the most important thing,” he said. But “it must be luck of the Irish,” McDowell said. “They’re both great news.”
The casino took more than $200,000 in taxes from the winnings, but the couple will still walk away with significant winnings. They will give most of the money to their children — after spoiling themselves just a little. “Our lives will probably stay pretty much the same. But it might get better for our children,” he said. “Maybe we’ll take a cruise.”