Megabucks hits for $19M

Nov 18, 2003 1:19 AM

A 69-year old retired Marine from Las Vegas won $19.6 million at the Stardust shortly after midnight last Friday while playing on his favorite bank of Megabucks machines.

Just as he does every Thursday night, Jake Latulip said he dropped in at the Stardust on the Las Vegas Strip to listen to some music in the lounge, check on the weekend’s NASCAR races in the sports book and play $30 in Megabucks.

But this time, the evening’s ending was anything but routine: the third Megabucks eagle symbol fell into place on the Red, White and Blue machine, making him the 59th winner on the historic MegaJackpots system.

Nevada Megabucks was the very first MegaJackpots game to link machines in casinos statewide thus building world record slot jackpots.

At $19,600,523.30, Latulip’s jackpot is the sixth largest Megabucks win on record. The largest slot jackpot ever was $39.7 million won on Megabucks at the Excalibur in March 2003.

Latulip said he could remember when Megabucks started in 1986 with a $1 million dollar jackpot but that he had never even come close to winning until now. "At first, I couldn’t believe it. All I could think was ”˜yeah!’’’, he said.

The start amount on Nevada Megabucks has grown through the years and now resets at $7 million.

When asked what he plans to do with his winnings, Latulip said he had thought about his answer for a long time. "In a nutshell, any damn think I want!" he answered with a grin.

Megabucks is paid in 25 annual installments and Latulip received his first payment after the jackpot was verified.

As with all MegaJackpots, the top award on Megabucks can only be won with a maximum bet of $3. Latulip said it makes him crazy when he sees players betting only one or two dollars on progressive machines.

"I would have won $5,000 if I had played only one coin," he said. "Five-thousand for one is a pretty good return but 19 million to 3 is a lot better!"

Latulip said that the Stardust has been his favorite casino since he moved to Las Vegas in 1979 and that he regularly stops in to see favorite employees and to play the slots. "It’s great to win here where I feel like family," he said.

Megabucks is one of 22 MegaJackpots systems in Nevada created and operated by IGT (International Game Technology).

Separate Megabucks systems are also operating in California, Iowa, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Jersey, Colorado, Missouri and Detroit.

Another Megabucks system connects Native American casinos throughout the U.S., and a separate system links Native American casinos in California.

Players can get a listing of all the IGT MegaJackpots throughout the country by logging onto igtgames.com.