According to the traditional Irish proverb, ‘Good luck beats early rising’, and the saying has never been better exemplified than by the fortuity experienced by Honolulu postal worker John Tippin at the Las Vegas Hilton in January, 1996. Holidaying in Sin City during Super Bowl weekend, Tippin, 50, invested $9 for three spins on the ‘Megabucks’ progressive jackpot slot machine; on his third and final spin, he lined up four jackpot-winning ‘Megabucks’ symbols on the bottom pay line and won $11.97 million. In so doing, he beat the previous world record for a slot machine payout, $10.8 million, set on a similar machine elsewhere in Las Vegas the previous October.
Reflecting on his windfall, Tippin said, ‘I was getting ready to play another machine when it happened. I wasn’t even trying for it.’ He added, ‘It’s surreal. The first thing I realized is my life just changed as I know it. It has me thinking about sleeping in in the morning.’
Five years later, alongside biographer Lance Tominaga, also from Hawaii, Tippin co-authored the book, ‘I Did It! My Life After Megabucks’. The purpose of the book, according to Tippin, was to tell his story in, more or less, his own words and to provide a cautionary tale for anyone following, or likely to follow, in his footsteps. The narrative chronicles his life, and that of his wife, Stella, since he became a multimillionaire and does not shy away from the difficulties, emotional, financial and social, that he experienced as a result. Tippin died peacefully at home in Honolulu in August, 2020, aged 74.