It has been a big week for Harold McDowell, of Lakewood, New Jersey, and not because of Christmas.
On Friday, doctors confirmed that his wife was cancer free, after multiple surgeries for liver cancer and hospital stays for colon cancer.
Then on Saturday afternoon he won $1m (£790,000) at a casino in Atlantic City.
Mr McDowell, 85, bet just $5 in a game of poker and hit a six-card royal straight flush of diamonds. (As a poker player myself, I can tell you this does NOT happen often…or ever really.)
The casino, Borgata Hotel, said the odds had been just one in 20,348,320.
He was dealt the 10, queen and ace of diamonds. The dealer’s hand was the nine, jack and king of diamonds.
Mr McDowell put his win down to “luck of the Irish”.
The retired public works director told the New York Post that his wife had been with him but she had been even more shocked by his win than he was.
He said: “I happened to be playing next to my wife. I had my back to her.” “I turned around said: ‘I just won a million dollars’. She told me: ‘You’re full of c**p’.”
Mr McDowell said he was “dumbfounded” by the win, saying he had “sat there like an idiot”.
The casino has taken a cut of at least $200,000 in taxes, he said, but the news about his wife’s health was more important to him than the money.
He told the Post: “It was better news that she’s healthy – money isn’t the most important thing.”
When asked what he would do with the money, he said he would give most of it to his children but he and his wife might take a cruise.
“Our lives will probably stay pretty much the same,” he said. “But it might get better for our children.”
He told the news outlet the more important “stroke of luck” had come the day before when his wife had been given a clean bill of health from her doctor after recently battling cancer. She reportedly underwent surgeries for both liver and colon cancer.
He said the casino took at least $200,000 in taxes, but he now plans to give most of his winnings to his kids.
In a Facebook post, the casino said, ”This is the first time this bet has hit at Borgata, and experts at Wizardofodds confirm that the odds of hitting the 6 card Bonus are 1 in 20,348,320.”