Big Win Gamblers Who Gave So Much Away

Big Heart

There are many tales across the world of players winning massive sums of money when gambling. While a huge windfall may seem like a fairy tale to many of us, a great number of people’s lives have been rocked in mere seconds as jackpot prize hauls fall into their laps, unexpectantly. Such stories are always a good read. We’re sure many of you take at least a second to daydream about what you would do if you won life-changing sums of cash like that.

I wonder, though, how many of us, when presented with a whopping cheque, would dare to give it all away! Well, we have uncovered several heart-warming stories where this was the outcome. These great acts of generosity provide hope that there is still great good in the world and that there are still people looking out for those less fortunate than themselves.

So, join us, as we explore several accounts of the most generous charitable giveaways by gamblers in modern history:

WSOP Bracelets

1. WSOP Champ Pledges $204K Winnings to Charity

Gershon Distenfeld, first-time winner of the $1,500 Shootout No-Limit Holdem at the 2021 World Series of Poker tournament pledged his entire $204,063 winnings to charity after taking the crown in the final round of Event #48 against Johan Schumacher.

His title bracelet means a lot to him, but his love for people seems to outweigh his need for the cash haul. Gershon’s drive to make the world a better place solidifies him a place as a budding philanthropist. He said:

“My wife Aviva and I have been blessed with financial means and it’s a core value of ours to give both our money and our time to help make the world a better place.”

His efforts didn’t end with his donation either, as he challenged all poker bracelet winners to follow his example and pledge at least 1% of their winnings to those less fortunate than themselves. With a world in need, generous visionaries like this are in much demand.

Mega Bucks Slot

2. Lucky Vegas Slot Player Pledges Chunk of $14 Million Jackpot to Charity

One lucky Vegas local won $14 million at Rampart Casino while playing the slots in 2014. According to news reports, the un-named man was not a regular gambler, which made his windfall even more surprising. While accompanying a good friend from out of town at the casino, he decided to bide his time playing slots. So, he sat down at the Megabucks slot machine on a whim.

After several minutes at the machine, the lights flickered and sirens chimed, changing his and many others’ fortunes forever. When asked what he would do with the funds, his reply was that it would go to charity and towards finding his local church its own building.

In a world where $14 million can buy luxury sports cars, holidays, and more, it is comforting to know that the aspirations and priorities of some good men are focussed more on the welfare of others than striving for the ‘glam’ life, themselves.

Mega Millions Logo

3. Portion of Mega Millions Jackpot Goes to the Red Cross

Inside Edition covers the story of an un-named US woman who won the Mega Millions Jackpot prize in October 2018. After seeing signs advertising the whopping $1.5 billion jackpot draw while she was driving on the highway, she decided to pull over and buy a ticket for the draw on a whim. Well, the whim paid off massively!

When asked what she would do with the windfall, she answered through her lawyer that she intended to use it for charitable causes among other things. Her statement read:

“I do realize that such good fortune carries a tremendous social responsibility, and it gives me a unique opportunity to assist, support and contribute to charities and causes that are close to my heart.”

It turns out that her decision would make her the winner of the single largest payout to a single person in US history. She opted to take a lumpsum payout of more than $870 million after securing a lawyer to work on her behalf. It’s understood that a donation of even a fraction of the nearly $900 million can change the lives of multiple needy families forever. Among the charities designated for aid on her list, was the Red Cross Relief Fund for victims of the Alabama tornadoes.

Canadian Flag and Dollars

4. $40 Million Lottery Winner Gives All His Money Away

Canadian retiree, Tom Crist, won $40 million in the lottery in December 2013 and reported to BBC News that he would not keep a single dime of it for himself.  Instead, it would ALL go to charitable organisations.

After losing his wife to cancer two years prior, the top of his list of recipient candidates was the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. The funds would find use in cancer research and in the treatment aid of those living with the fatal illness that claimed his wife’s life.

He based his decision on what he believes his wife would have wanted. He said:

“I know where the money is going. I’m not keeping a dime of it. She (his wife) would be 100% behind it, as that is who she was. She was a giving person. You can ask anybody that knows her; any of her friends. That’s just who she was, and she made me a better person, there’s no doubt about it. She would be ecstatic with this.”

It’s awesome to see how the generous legacy of one woman lives on beyond her death through her husband. There is so much more to live for than the immediate future. How we live today can influence the future of many for years to come when we have the right motives. Those are the lesson we can learn from this touching story.


Sean Merwe

Sean is an iGaming expert and a member of our PokCas team of writers with experience in the European and US markets. He covers iGaming news, writes valuable strategy guides, and conducts in-depth brand reviews.