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January 27, 2015

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Marine credits karma for hitting $2.9 million jackpot at Bellagio



Alexander Degenhardt, a U.S. Marine stationed in Washington, D.C., won a $2.8 million progressive slot machine jackpot Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012, at the Bellagio.

A couple of days before he hit a jackpot of nearly $3 million, Cpl. Alexander Degenhardt learned he’d been accepted as a bone marrow donor to an anonymous patient.

“They asked me if I was sure I wanted to go through with it, because it’s kind of painful, but what’s a little pain if it will save someone’s life?” the U.S. Marine said Friday. “I look at this as kind of good karma for that.”

Degenhardt’s karma was worth more than $2.8 million, the second biggest jackpot for Bally Technologies, which manufactures the games and pays out the jackpots.

The 26-year-old hit the $2,882,808.32 score about 7 p.m. Sunday on the Money Vault Millionaires Seven slot at the Bellagio.

The penny slot, which takes bets from 40 cents to $2, has been building a progressive jackpot in casinos across Nevada for the past six months. Players in California, Florida, Mississippi and New Jersey also have been vying for the progressive payout, which started at $1 million.

Degenhardt and several fellow Marines had flown in from Washington D.C., where he is stationed, for training at Nellis Air Force Base. He said he and a buddy decided to kill a couple of hours at the casinos while waiting for their plane to leave over the President’s Day weekend. He stuck a $100 bill into the machine and figured he’d lose it quickly. He’d never won more than $200 in credits before hitting almost $3 million.

“Dude, what just happened?” Degenhardt remembers asking his friend.

“You just won,” the buddy told him.

“Cool,” Degenhardt said.

He was stunned.

“It’s something you always want to happen, but when it does happen you don’t believe it,” he said.

Degenhardt will receive about $100,000 a year over 20 years. He said he plans to first help his sister, who is pregnant, and his mother catch up on bills.

He also plans to go through with the marrow donation, which is on track to happen in the next six months after an extensive testing process.

As for some of that money burning a hole in his pocket, Degenhardt decided to buy himself some clothes — at a thrift store, where he buys all of his clothes. And he said he won’t be parting with his car that has rolled up some 250,000 miles.

“I plan to keep driving it until I can’t anymore,” he said. “No sense in wasting money. I’m really pretty thrifty.”

But he’s glad he put that $100 into the slot.

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  1. Wow...

    Only in Vegas, baby.
    Congratulations, Alexander!
    The Karmic Wheel rolls on.

  2. absolutely wonderful.

  3. I just hope the USMC doesn't try to use that windfall as an excuse to discharge that Marine. Military tends to frown on wealthy service members because they can't use their paycheck to control them. Several years ago, a fellow Soldier won a nice chunk of change in some state lottery and the Army tried to kick him out, saying he had too much $$.

  4. I am very happy for this Marine?.....usually it is some old lady chain smoking while towing around an oxygen bottle that gets lucky like this........Semper Fi!

  5. Nice story. Karma never stops on giving.

  6. Neat story. Good for him!!

    And I have NEVER heard of the military discharging someone because all of a sudden they won money!! What does money have to do with being a good Marine or a good soldier??? Military afraid the soldier will be texting his broker while in a fire fight?

  7. Congratulations!!!!! Good for him. Sounds like he'll be a good steward of his new fortune.

    What I found interesting in the story was that the progress jackpot machine was tied to other casinos in other states with legalized gambling. Insurmountable odds for sure. Shouldn't Nevada casinos post publicly the odds for progressive machines within their establishment or state that the progressive jackpot is linked to other properties within the company properties within Las Vegas, the State of Nevada or other States. I understand the house always has the advantage, but as a bettor, I should have the information readily available for me to make a decision which progressive machine to play where my odds are best.

    Again, Congratulations Cpl Degenhardt. Thank you for your service to our country.

  8. samjung

    Sorry, Jennifer is wrong.

  9. samjung

    Geez! Can't you read? I was not thinking of all the reasons why!! All I was saying is that he will NOT get discharged because he won that money as Jennifer intimated. That is all. It is an "urban myth" that the military discharges you if you all of a sudden come into a huge amount of money or have a lot of money when you enlist. I DO know human nature. He's a young guy that won a hell of a lot of money. If he was smart, he would invest the money until he leaves the military. $2.8 million sounds like a lot and it is. For a young person, to get that money as an annuity, it would be a nice chunk of change every year IN ADDITION to a regular salary. If it's taken in a lump sum, it will come out to be half that amount. He sounds like a smart kid; he will do the right thing - but he will not be discharged.

  10. Is he going to keep his day job?