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VOL. 128 | NO. 125 | Thursday, June 27, 2013

Horseshoe Celebrates Newly Minted Millionaires

By Michael Waddell

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Horseshoe Casino & Hotel Tunica recently hosted a Millionaire Maker dinner for eight of its weekly $1 million winners in the Millionaire Maker promotion dubbed “One Winner. One Million Dollars. Every Saturday.”

Some of the winners of the Millionaire Maker promotion were recently honored at Horseshoe Casino & Hotel Tunica.

(Patrick Collins, Caesars Entertainment)

And the evening was capped off with announcement of the 12th $1 million winner: Charlene Mullis from Leopold, Ind.

The lucky winners, who enjoyed a five-course meal at the Founder’s Club inside Horseshoe, were selected from entries at Horseshoe Tunica, Harrah’s Tunica and Tunica Roadhouse – all casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment.

“In order to win, you have to get a Total Rewards card. You swipe it to get an entry in the weekly drawing, and then the more you play the more entries you get,” said Jason Duchene, Caesars regional director of casino marketing.

In total, the casinos will award $1 million to 17 weekly winners by the end of July.

“We were looking to create a large, out-of-the-box promotion that was unique not only to Tunica, but also to the gaming industry as a whole,” said Jesse Keaveny, Caesars regional vice president of marketing for the Mid-South region. “We’ve been really pleased with the response it has gotten. There haven’t been many new and exciting things in Tunica recently, so we wanted to be the market leader in that respect.”

Keaveny estimates that the promotion generates more than 1 million entries each week.

For most of the winners, they simply could not believe that they had actually won.

“I think I cried a little bit,” said Robert Rump, a retired truck driver from Bremen, Ohio. “It was just unbelievable.”

Rump loves to gamble and travels to Tunica and Las Vegas several times per year. His game of choice is video poker, while his wife, Linda, enjoys playing the Flaming 7’s and the Red, White, and Blue slot machines.

The two are planning to celebrate with a first-class trip to Australia and New Zealand later this year, and they also gave each of their four daughters some of the winnings.

Karen Burchette from Yadkinville, N.C., the contest’s 11th $1 million winner, describes her reaction to winning as “shock and disbelief.” She flies to Tunica once per month on a charter flight and usually plays the penny slots.

“I don’t usually even hit jackpots,” she said. “I thought they were kidding when they called me to tell me I’d won.”

Burchette plans to use some of her money to help her church, First Baptist Church of Yadkinville, which she has attended her whole life.

“I’m giving 10 percent right off the top to help try to bail my church out of some financial difficulties,” she said.

Patsy Sledge of Senatobia, Miss., was the contest’s second winner, did not even realize that she was in the drawing.

“When they called at 9 o’clock to tell me I had won, I just wondered who was calling so late at night,” said Sledge, who is a retired principal of Oak Grove Elementary School in Hernando. “It was an awesome experience, and it still has not really sunk in.”

With her winnings she has paid off her car and some other bills, and she is now in the process of restoring her family home in Senatobia.

She visits Tunica about once each week and loves to play the penny and quarter slots.

“This is what I do for entertainment,” she said. “I love to come down here, have lunch, and just play for a while.”

For Tony Wood, a United States Air Force veteran from Chester, Ill., winning was lucky in more ways than one. He was not even going to swipe his Total Rewards card on his last visit, but his wife, Joan, insisted he do so. So he swiped it once and then pocketed it for the rest of the night.

“I’m not even much of a gambler, but my wife plays a little of everything,” said Wood, who currently works as a security therapy aid at a mental health facility.

Joan Wood joked that the lesson is to always listen to your wife.

“My motto is if you’re not in it, you can’t win it,” she said.

The Woods were visiting Harrah’s Tunica for only the second time after making their first trip down more than one year ago. They plan to save most of their winnings for their upcoming retirement.

Other winners of the $1 million giveaway include: Frank Davis from Fayetteville, Tenn.; Karen Christian from Memphis; Gerald Gwinn from Jonesboro, Ark.; Linda Guntharp from Tupelo, Miss.; Bruce Finfrock from Altamont, Ill.; and William Wenberg from Little Rock.

The $1 million drawing takes place at 9 p.m. every Saturday through the end of July, with the announcement of the $1 million winner simulcast among Harrah’s, Horseshoe, and Tunica Roadhouse casinos.

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