As an operating-room nurse, Duane Kelloway has seen some crazy things.
Nothing could’ve prepared him for the jackpot he won this past weekend at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa.
“It’s becoming a blur,” Kelloway said in an interview with the casino’s PR team Sunday. “I thought I hit a jackpot for $2,400 and then everything went crazy.”
The Spring Hill resident placed a $3 bet and won a $2,450 prize. In addition, his modest jackpot put Hard Rock’s total 2021 payout over $1 billion for the first time in the casino’s history. For that feat, a celebration was in order.
Hard Rock jackpot winner’s change of plans paid off nicely
Kelloway had planned to head to the casino on Friday to blow off some steam after a long week of work.
His wife encouraged him to stay home and rest. He listened. Refreshed and ready to gamble, Kelloway drove from sleepy Spring Hill to the bustling Tampa casino.
He placed a $3 bet on a progressive slot machine and won the jackpot. However, he quickly learned it wasn’t the average jackpot. Tipping the 2021 payout increased Kelloway’s winnings
Kelloway almost passed out when reality set in
After the win, a floor attendant told him that she had to verify his win.
“I was starting to panic because I thought there was something wrong with the machine,” he said during his interview with Hard Rock staff. “All of a sudden you guys come over. The band is playing. Everything’s gone nuts. Everything went crazy. I didn’t know what’s going on.”
Staff ushered him onto a stage amid stilt walkers and dancing girls. He almost passed out, he said.
“I started to get a little weak in the knees; hyperventilate a little,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe this was all happening to me…All these people were clapping and yelling and cheering, and the band was playing.”
Winner chooses BMW over 10x jackpot win
Once Kelloway realized what had happened, he had a decision to make. Take a lump sum equal to 10 times his slots win ($24,500) or choose a 2022 BMW X7 M50i SUV valued at $112,245.
He chose the car.
“I drove here in my 2013 Ford Taurus with just under 200,000 miles on it, and now I’m looking at this,” he said, his voice trailing off as he looked at the gleaming BMW behind him. “It’s brand frickin’ new. I can’t believe it.”
New car a fitting reward amid hard times
During his interview with Hard Rock PR, Kelloway revealed that, as a nurse in the operating room of a hospital in Tampa, he’s dealt with numerous COVID patients. In addition, he’s helped doctors insert breathing and feeding tubes into people battling the virus.
“It’s been very, very stressful. Everybody’s at the brink. This is just another thing that…maybe it’s payback from God or somebody,” he said, briefly looking upward. “This is very emotional. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.”