Famous Gambling Winners: The Lucky and not-so-Lucky

The sirens, the happy dings, the almost deafening chimes…all noises that raise blood pressures and hopes in a casino. Have you ever imagined winning big? Like, really big? Here are some people who really did. Before you get too excited, know that a giant paycheck does not always mean “happily ever after.”

Charles Deville Wells

Back in the late 1800s, Charlie Wells pulled a number of fast ones. Among his varied schemes was playing roulette with quite a bit of not-quite-legally acquired money. He was able to pocket over $500,000 in today’s dollars during one marathon round at the wheel, bringing him fame and even inspiring a song to be written about him.  Alas, not too long after striking it rich, Charlie lost everything and even did jail time after his fraudulent past caught up with him.

Cynthia Jay-Brennan

Upon hearing that Cynthia, a cocktail waitress, won $35 million on what the largest ever slot jackpot at the time, you might think she was lucky. Really lucky. Sadly, just a short few weeks after winning big, Cynthia lost not her money, but almost everything that really mattered to her. During a horrific car accident, her sister Lela was killed and Cynthia was paralyzed from the chest down. Cynthia has said that she would give up the money in a second if it would bring her sister back. Unfortunately, it won’t.

Gonazol Garcia-Pelayo

Gonz used his smarts to strike it rich at the casino. Being gifted in math, he figured out that roulette wheels were not entirely random. Using statistics and many hours of research, he was able to make quite a tidy sum, both in Spain and Las Vegas until he was eventually sued one Spanish casino.

Ronnie Music, Jr.

Ronnie Music won the lottery. Ronnie Music was on meth. Ronnie Music spent his lottery winnings on meth. Ronnie Music lost all of his lottery winnings and went to jail. Don’t be like Ronnie Music.

Michael Jordan

That’s right, the Michael Jordan was a pretty active gambler. Sports was his go-to for placing bets, especially golf. It is reported that he would routinely place six-figure bets on single holes of golf. Unfortunately for Michael, he was not good at gambling and in time accrued upwards of $3 million in debt. When this news got around to his sponsors, he lost quite a few accounts. This left him even more in the hole, unlike the balls of the golfers he had bet upon.At least he is still remembered as one of the best basketball players of all time?

As you can see, winning big does not necessarily equate into having a lot of money or even good fortune in the long run. Gambling is just that….gambling. While it is fun and sure, sometimes even profitable to hit the casino, online poker room, or dog track, please remember that these places rarely go out of business. They are making enough not only to keep the lights on but to pay what is probably a large staff, taxes, building maintenance, and insurance as well. That would not be possible if everyone who walked in the door walked out with even more money that they showed up with.

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