CELEBRATING MY FREEDOM
Had I known how things would turn out, maybe I would have waited one more day before I ventured into the casino
to celebrate my impending divorce. Then again, if I had waited, maybe they wouldn't have turned out the way they did.
But I wanted to forget my third failed marriage, this time to a man who I thought was my soul mate. Instead, Louis
tried to steal my soul and turn me into something I wasn't - a 1950's housewife. Someone to do the cooking and
cleaning while he worked and went out at night with his friends. He had even wanted me to quit my job, but in an act
of defiance, I had refused. This marriage lasted less than three years - my shortest one yet - and was to come to an
But tonight, I wanted to celebrate my freedom. So I went to my local casino, something I had been prohibited from
doing during our marriage. As I put my money into the slot machines, I thought about him each time I pushed the
"Spin" button, getting angrier with each push, until I eventually was pounding it. (At one point, a security guard came
over and asked me to ease up. I was embarrassed as I explained my situation. While he empathized with my plight,
he again asked me to remember that this was only a machine and not my soon-to-be ex-husband.)
I was down to my last twenty dollars and decided to do something I had rarely done before - play the state-wide
"Megabucks" machine. The jackpot was over $22,000,000 and I thought this was a perfect way to end my lack-luster
night. Costing three dollars a pop, and having hit only small amounts so far, I had only three dollars left. Just enough
for one last roll and then I would go home. I pushed the button. One by one, the "Megabucks" symbols lined up in each
Suddenly, bells started going off, the machine froze up, and I sat there staring at it in disbelief. I had hit the jackpot.
$22,346,520.26! Of all the machines throughout the state of Nevada, I had picked the right machine at the right time.
I couldn't believe it. People came running from all over the casino. Some were patting me on my back; some were
yelling 'Congratulations;' some were just yelling.
When the casino manager came over to congratulate me, I was barely able to either hear or understand him. I was in
shock. JuanCarlos led me into a private office and started putting papers in front of me to sign. When it came to the
box where I had to check whether I was 'married' or 'single,' I hesitated. Which one was I? I looked at my watch, but
it had stopped. The battery must have died. I looked around the office for a wall clock and found none. JuanCarlos,
seeing my obvious distress, asked me if something was wrong.
"What time is it?" I asked.
Quizzically, he looked at me, and then looked at his watch.
"12:10" he answered.
"Great," I replied, and checked the box marked 'single.' My ex-husband could not lay claim to the money I had won.
It was after midnight and we were now officially divorced.
I took home a check for $17,877,216. The next day, I contacted my financial advisor and met with her to figure out
how to invest my newfound wealth.
I had so many plans for this money: travel, a new car, a new home. I quit my job and did the volunteer work I had
always wanted to do, but never had the time for. I donated large sums of money to my favorite charities, which
previously had received a mere pittance from me. I was finally living the life I had always dreamed about. I could not
have been happier.
Then, three months later, I received a certified letter from my ex-husband's attorney demanding half of my winnings
under the Nevada community property statute. I laughed, then realized the seriousness of my predicament. I had
signed the papers at 12:10 AM, but at what time had I actually won the jackpot?
I immediately called my divorce lawyer and set up a meeting for the next day. I arrived at his office with all of my
paperwork and as he looked it over, I started to realize the error of my ways. Why hadn't I waited until the next day
to go gambling? What if I had to give my ex-husband over eight million dollars? True, I would still have plenty of
money left over, but the thought of him getting half made my blood boil.
"You may have a problem here, Ms. Cantrell," the lawyer said. "I'll call the casino to see if they can give me an
accurate time on your win. Oh, and by the way, congratulations."
"Thank you." I watched nervously as he placed the call.
Ten minutes later, he hung up the phone and smiled. "You're in luck. According to their records, you hit the jackpot
at exactly 12:01 and 30 seconds. You're in the clear; the money is all yours."
I left his office with the biggest smile I've had on my face since I won the money and thanked God for my timing. If
I'd hit the jackpot just two minutes earlier, things would have been very different. And had I waited until the next day
to go gambling. I may not have hit it at all.
So screw you, Louis, and have a happy life without me or my money. As for me, I'm going to enjoy spending every
last dime of it.