Top 10 slot jackpots hit in Vegas

Photo of Trinadad Torres courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.

Photo of Trinadad Torres courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.

Admit it. You have the same dream we do.

Everything conspires and you find yourself in the right place at the right time – seated in front of a Megabucks slot machine that’s primed and ready to hit. You push the button (of course, pulling a lever would be more dramatic, but this is 2015 and the one-armed bandit has gone the way of the horse and buggy). The logos on the reels all line up. And then the moment you’ve been waiting for finally arrives…you realize you’re a millionaire.

Correction: A multimillionaire.

IGT’s Megabucks has been paying out ginormous life-changing jackpots for almost 20 years. Its slogan is “Dream big. Win big.”

A network of slot machines linked throughout Nevada, Megabucks boasts a top prize that builds from a base amount of $10 million. To play it costs $1 a spin, but to quality for that top amount you’ll have to shell out $3. That sounds pretty steep, we know. But trust us, if you hit Megabucks with only a buck or two invested, you’ll leave with a jackpot in the thousands instead of millions. And just imagine trying to live with that.

As you’d expect, Megabucks lays claim to having paid the largest slot jackpots in Vegas history. It last hit here in mid March at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. The lucky winner was Trinadad Torres, a 78-year-old woman from Magna, Utah. She played $100 before netting the $10,744,292.71 jackpot. Her plans include traveling to the Philippines and buying a yellow Mustang.

While nothing to sneeze at, Torres’ windfall just misses placing her on our list below of the 10 biggest slot jackpots ever won in Sin City.


Photo of Excalibur courtesy of MGM Resorts International.

Photo of Excalibur courtesy of MGM Resorts International.

Still the biggest one ever

Jackpot amount: $39,710,826.36
When: March 21, 2003
Where: Excalibur

More than 12 years ago, a 25-year-old software engineer from Los Angeles, who wanted to remain anonymous (and who can blame him?), hit the city’s largest slot jackpot after playing $100 on a Megabucks machine. A C-note in return for nearly $40 million…now that’s what we’d call a damn good investment.


Photo of Cynthia Jay-Brennan at the Desert Inn courtesy of Ethan Miller / Las Vegas Sun.

Photo of Cynthia Jay-Brennan at the Desert Inn courtesy of Ethan Miller / Las Vegas Sun.

A record-breaking jackpot

Jackpot amount: $34,959,458.56
When: Jan. 26, 2000
Where: Desert Inn (imploded in phases in 2001 and 2004 to make room for Wynn Las Vegas)

Gobs bigger than any tip she’d received, cocktail waitress Cynthia Jay-Brennan, then 37 years old, hit the second largest Megabucks slot jackpot in Vegas (at that time it was the city’s highest Megabucks payout). But her story took a tragic turn when her car was rear-ended about six weeks later by a drunk driver. Her older sister Lela died in the accident, and Jay-Brennan was left paralyzed.


Photo of Palace Station courtesy of Station Casinos.

Photo of Palace Station courtesy of Station Casinos.

Living in the moment pays off

Jackpot amount: $27,580,879.60
When: Nov. 15, 1998
Where: Palace Station

Ignoring your budget isn’t always a bad thing. Just ask the then 67-year-old retired flight attendant from Vegas who racked up the city’s third largest Megabucks slot payout. She’d only intended to play $100 at Palace Station that day, but wound up putting $300 in…and we’re pretty she doesn’t regret overspending one bit.


Photo of Johanna Huendal courtesy of Bally's.

Photo of Johanna Heundl courtesy of Bally’s.

Rise, shine and win

Jackpot amount: $22,621,229.74
May 27, 2002
Where: Bally’s

How does that old expression go? The early bird catches…the $22.6 million slot jackpot. Well, that’s how Johanna Heundl (then 74 years old) of Covina, California, might remember it. She was on her way to breakfast when she decided to stop and play a Megabucks machine. Having looked away for a moment, she couldn’t believe her eyes when she turned back and saw all the logos aligned in the payline.


Photo of Caesars Palace courtesy of Caesars Entertainment.

Photo of Caesars Palace courtesy of Caesars Entertainment.

Raking in the big bucks

Jackpot amount: $21,346,952.22
June 1, 1999
Where: Caesars Palace

An Illinois man, then 49 years old and described as a “self-employed business consultant,” put a $10 bill into a Megabucks machine at the Roman-themed property and hit this whopping multimillion-dollar slot jackpot on his first spin. Here’s what we want to know: Is he still consulting? Can we hire him to help us get into the business of being millionaires?


Photo of the Cannery Casino Hotel courtesy of Cannery Casino Resorts.

Photo courtesy of the Cannery Casino Hotel.

Twice as nice

Jackpot amount: $21,147,947
Sept. 15, 2005
Where: Cannery Casino Hotel

One man, two times a Megabucks winner. What are the odds? They’ve got to be astronomical. Certainly, anyone would be happy to score a single multimillion-dollar slot jackpot. But not everyone is Elmer Sherwin. A frequent Vegas visitor, Sherwin hit his first Megabucks jackpot of $4.6 million at The Mirage back in 1989. It was a sign of even better things to come. Sixteen years later, at the age of 92, that lucky son of a gun (kidding, we’re not jealous…really) did it again, adding another $21.1 million to his bank account.


Photo couretsy of the M Resort.

Photo courtesy of the M Resort.

Some dreams don’t cost a thing

Jackpot amount: $17,329,817.80
Dec. 14, 2012
Where: M Resort

Oh, the best things in life are free…especially when they lead to a $17.3 million jackpot. A Las Vegas woman stopped by the M Resort in Henderson to gamble with her “free play” credits and enjoy a meal with some dining vouchers. Before she knew it, she’d become a multimillionaire.


Photo of lucky winner courtesy Rampart Casino.

Photo of “Rampart Lucky Local” courtesy of the Rampart Casino.

Do-gooder hits pay dirt

Jackpot amount: $14,282,544.21
Nov. 30, 2014
Where: Rampart Casino

Late last year a Las Vegas man put $20 in a Megabucks slot machine at the Summerlin-area Rampart Casino. Within five minutes he’d hit a jackpot worth $14.2 million. His plans were altruistic (unlike ours). The man, dubbed the “Rampart Lucky Local,” said he would make a donation to his church. The church, which had been holding services in a high school gym, can now have its own location built.


Photo of Aria courtesy of MGM Resorts International.

Photo of Aria courtesy of MGM Resorts International.

It ain’t broke

Jackpot amount: $12,769,933
Jan. 21, 2011
Where: Aria

A woman visiting her niece in Vegas decided to drop $6 in a Megabucks slot machine before heading back to her room. Her reaction when the winning symbols lined up: “The machine broke.” Luckily, her niece was there to clarify things. We think we should book a room at Aria because about four months after that jackpot occurred, another Megabucks jackpot hit at the resort for $10,636,897. Talk about lightning striking twice!


Photo of New York-New York courtesy of MGM Resorts International.

Photo of New York-New York courtesy of MGM Resorts International.

If she can make it there…

Jackpot amount: $12,510,549.90
April 14, 1997
Where: New York-New York

New York-New York opened its doors on Jan. 3, 1997. Perhaps due to a little of the “city that never sleeps” magic, Vegas resident Suzanne Henley made her fortune at the Big Apple-themed megaresort just a few months later. On her way home from work, she stopped in to play a Megabucks machine – one that she’d had an inkling might hit. Henley waited in line an hour before she could play. And at 1:44 a.m., after putting $100 in, her diligence paid off…to the tune of more than $12.5 million.


I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.