Wheel of Fortune winner at Horizon | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Wheel of Fortune winner at Horizon

It probably was just another normal, run-of-the-mill Friday night for most South Shore folk.

But not for Christine Ryan.

On that fine evening, she won a cool $679,619 when she hit the Wheel of Fortune quarters Mega-Jackpot at Horizon Casino Resort.

Ryan, a longtime Zephyr Cove resident, gambled 40 years before finally taking home big bucks.

“I’ve always gambled. But not when the kids were growing up, of course,” she said. “I have always had a certain allowance set aside that I bring with me when I go down to the casinos once a week.”

But this time, she said she only played a few quarters before the bells went off and the lights began flashing. Her reaction was quite sedate considering the circumstances.

“When it came up on the screen, I felt, well, I didn’t really realize it,” Ryan said. “I definitely don’t think it will change my life.”

Ryan, who is retired, said she has not decided what to do with the loot. She is contemplating traveling.

“The sum will be paid in 20 annual installments on the anniversary of the day she won it,” said Miles Ottenheimer, media marketer for International Game Technology. “She will have to worry about her own tax deductions, it will be treated like added income.”

Ottenheimer said Wheel of Fortune, the most popular progressive slot machine at Horizon, is electronically hooked-up statewide.

“The minute she hit the jackpot Friday night, all the slot machines in Nevada automatically re-set to $200,000,” Ottenheimer said. “Obviously the more you play, the more chances you have of hitting the jackpot. But it’s all random. Conceivably you could hit it back-to-back.”

Ryan cashed her first $33,980 check Monday, but she said taxes drastically reduced the amount of money she could actually call her own.

“Uncle Sam gets a big chunk out of it,” Ryan said. “The tax thing makes me kind of angry. It’ll be whittled down to nothing before they’re done with it.”

Asked whether winning the jackpot could change her life, Ryan just laughed.

“When you reach a station in life where you have the car you want, the house you want and you live in Tahoe – what else could you possibly want?”

Ryan’s was the first Wheel of Fortune Mega-Jackpot win since the system was installed at the casino 1 1/2 years ago.

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