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Winning the Jackpot

I Won $8.5 Million at a Slot Machine in Atlantic City and I Owe It All to My Cigar
Frank Oliveto
From the Print Edition:
George Burns, Winter 94/95

(continued from page 1)

By then I was surrounded by the Grand's attendants. They took my identification, secured the machine, roped off the area and told me it was safe for me to look for Margaret. I ran 35 feet and found her at the blackjack table. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Margaret, I think I just won $8.5 million." Then I started to run back. She said she could tell in my face that I was serious: this was big.

We spent the next few hours, not to mention days, being interviewed by everybody from the Associated Press to Newsday to "Good Morning America." This was major news: the biggest Atlantic City slot-machine win ever. And no one told me not to smoke my cigars during the interviews. (The Grand, by the way, finally found us a room--a penthouse suite.)

My kids are ecstatic. Meg graduated last year from the University of Richmond with a degree in psychology. Jenny, is a premed student at my alma mater, Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and Frankie is studying marine biology at the University of San Diego in California. Jenny says I'm her idol now.

Everybody loves me now. And everybody wants to know what I'm going to do with all the money. You know what I tell them? I'm going to spend more time with my wonderful wife and family and for the first time really enjoy all the things I have spent the past few decades working for. The son of Italian immigrants, I grew up in the Bronx and worked my way through medical school laying bricks with my father. For the past 22 years, I have worked six days a week as well as night-call duty. At 54, I won't retire yet, but I will slow down. Take off nights and weekends like most other people. One thing I will enjoy is upgrading my selection of cigars--recently I've begun smoking Davidoffs.

And I still have that lucky cigar, tucked away in one of those little metal tubes.

Frank Oliveto, M.D., is a practicing orthopedic surgeon based on Long Island in New York.

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