Late rush of mega-winners!

Jan 13, 2003 11:57 PM

As 2002 counted down, the last long holiday weekend of the year was a busy one for IGT’s jackpot response people around the country.

In the five days from Christmas through Sunday, Dec. 29, the IGT peopl paid 10 MegaJackpots awards, including five that were over $1 million and one that approached $10 million.

In total, the Reno-based slot machine manufacturer said the company paid out more than $16.5 million, and an IGT spokesperson said that three overdue jackpots totaling $50 million are still waiting to be won.

In Mississippi, Wheel of Fortune dollars paid Barbara Jane Thornburg $9.9 million at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi on Friday afternoon. Then, on Sunday, Wheel of Fortune $5 hit at Biloxi’s Imperial Palace, paying homemaker Celeste McCormick $1.2 million.

Even so, these jackpots are dwarfed by two overdue jackpots still waiting to be won in the state. Currently at $12.5 million, Jeopardy! quarters will set a new world record for 25-cent slot jackpots, and Megabucks, currently at $12.3 million, will set a system record for Mississippi.

In Nevada, Wheel of Fortune quarters hit twice. On Saturday, an Alabama man belatedly celebrating his 21st birthday with his parents won $1.7 million on Wheel of Fortune at Treasure Island on the Las Vegas Strip.

The next day, a retiree from Illinois won $350,000 at Bally’s Las Vegas. The Nevada Megabucks system is approaching $27 million, making it the third largest slot jackpot ever and still growing.

In Arizona, Wheel of Fortune dollars paid $1.2 million at Desert Diamond casino in Tucson on Thursday, December 26. Three days later, the game hit again at Desert Diamond, this time paying more than $500,000.

In Vinton, Louisiana, Wheel of Fortune quarters paid $1 million at Delta Downs Racetrack, and in Detroit, Michigan, Wheel of Fortune quarters paid a lucky winner $400,000 at the Motor City Casino.