Marcelo Loyola, a 50-year-old solutions contractor based in Toronto, the capital of the province of Ontario, Canada, has won a life-changing $3.2 million progressive jackpot - a win that he credits entirely to his late girlfriend.
He celebrated his 50th birthday on April 2, however tragedy struck when his long-time girlfriend passed away suddenly on April 5. Two weeks later, still feeling down and devastated from the loss, he went to Casino Woodbine, a favorite entertainment venue for both of them.
He said, "She always went upstairs to play the slots, and I would go downstairs to play the tables. We were always there together, and the past couple of weeks have been really hard. That day I just felt her spirit in me, so I went upstairs to play the slots, even though as a table games player I never do that."
After trying out a few different slots, he then decided to play her favorite slot machine. He says they usually see the jackpot building up, but never thought she would win it. Loyola recalled his girlfriend liked to play the game, but had her own style of playing it, "Rather than waiting for the wheels to stop naturally, she would press the button to stop the machine mid-spin in an attempt for the three 'Jackpot' icons to line up." So he did just that, and boy did he win!
Loyola said, "I would always say to her, don't play it like that, just let it spin! But I felt her with me that night, so I played it like she did. I stopped it and it hit! I saw 'Jackpot, Jackpot, Jackpot' and I started screaming that I won the jackpot and running around and going crazy."
The slot machine, Wheel of Fortune by IGT, quickly flashed and displayed the big win, attracting a crowd of curious onlookers and casino staff who were just as delighted as the $3.2 million winner.
"A lot of people at Casino Woodbine know us, and they knew she had just passed away. They were giving me their condolences, and at the same time they were also congratulating me. It's just an incredibly emotional story and it's hard for me to tell it. But I know for a fact she was there with me. It can't be a coincidence."
Robert Katsavelos, Casino Woodbine General Manager commented on the win, "We're thrilled for Marcelo and excited to see him take home such a huge payout, especially after such an emotional time. This is an amazing story in so many ways, and we're glad Marcelo has chosen to share it with us."
While Loyola admits that he's "super happy about winning", he says he wishes his girlfriend was beside him so he could share it, "She would have been overjoyed. She loved the casino and she loved to win."
Loyola plans to buy a new house for his parents, visit his brother and his family in British Columbia, and invest some of the winnings.
"I want to take care of the people I love. My girlfriend and I took care of each other. I loved her so much. She would be so happy."