Record-Breaking Slot Jackpots in Las Vegas: The Top 7 Wins

record-breaking slot jackpots in Las Vegas
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The top seven slot jackpots in Las Vegas history were all hit on Megabucks progressive machines, which is no surprise. These slots present by far the longest odds of winning but also offer the greatest payouts for those who manage to beat the odds. Whenever someone takes a Megabucks spin, a small portion of the bet goes into a jackpot that anyone at any of Nevada’s approximately 750 Megabucks machines can win at any time. The longer the interval between jackpots, the higher the amount.

Most of the information below was provided by International Game Technology (IGT), which pays out the Megabucks jackpots. Contrary to popular myth, the casinos don’t.

1. $39.7 Million – March 21, 2003, Excalibur

An anonymous 25-year-old software engineer from LA holds the record for the largest jackpot win ever, in Vegas or anywhere else. The winner, who exercised his right to remain anonymous, was visiting family members in Las Vegas when he played about $100 in a machine. He turned his head away for a second and, when he looked back, the winning symbols were lined up.

2. $34.9 Million – Jan. 26, 2000, Desert Inn

Cynthia Jay-Brennan, a 37-year-old cocktail server at the Monte Carlo, made nearly 1.3 million times her $27 investment back. But this story has no happy ending. Just six weeks after her win, a drunken driver with 16 prior arrests slammed into her car, killing her sister and leaving Jay-Brennan permanently paralyzed.

3. $27.5 Million – Nov. 15, 1998, Palace Station

Before this off-Strip locals’ casino became famous for O.J. Simpson’s memorabilia robbery, a much better headline was made by an anonymous 67-year-old Las Vegas woman who set aside only $100 to play her favorite machine. She hit the jackpot only $40 in.

4. $22.6 Million – March 27, 2002, Bally’s (now Horseshoe)

Johanna Huendl, a 74-year-old tourist from Covina, Calif., made her fortune on a Wheel of Fortune Megabucks while waiting for breakfast. She was already $1,000 in the hole when she hit the big win. It remains unknown whether Huendl ended up eating that breakfast.

5. $21.3 Million – June 1, 1999, Caesars Palace

An anonymous 49-year-old business consultant from Illinois won this jackpot on his very first Megabucks spin ever, which cost him $10 and changed his life forever.

6. $21.1 Million – Sept. 15, 2005, Cannery Casino

Elmer Sherwin, a 92-year-old Las Vegas resident and WWII veteran, hit his second Megabucks jackpot at the Cannery Casino. His first win was in 1989 at The Mirage for $4.6 million. Hitting a Megabucks jackpot twice is extremely rare.

7. $17.3 Million – Dec. 14, 2012, M Resort

Technically in Henderson, not Las Vegas, this win was still close enough. The anonymous winner used a free play and food voucher and didn’t realize the win until another player pointed it out.


These record-breaking slot jackpots in Las Vegas history highlight the immense payouts possible on Megabucks progressive machines. While winning such life-changing amounts is rare, the stories behind these wins add to the allure and mystique of Las Vegas gaming.