STATEN ISLAND, NY – Grace Colonnello didn’t want to go to Atlantic City that day.
But she was really glad she did. She hit the jackpot for a record $600,000.
It was October 27, 1982.
An independent businesswoman, Colonnello, 52, of Silver Lake, hit the jackpot playing a one-dollar slot machine at Golden Nugget Casino, Advance reported in a front-page story at the time. .
Colonnello had been playing for about 15 minutes and spent about $40 when five gold nuggets lit up on the machine, “ringing the bells and making her an instant celebrity,” according to the newspaper.
“The bells have started ringing and everyone is gathering around you – you just don’t believe what’s happening, it’s all happening so fast,” she told Advance at the time. “It’s just a really nice feeling.”
Colonnello said she was walking along the driveway of the casino and just stopped at the machine which ended up giving her the jackpot.
“After a few times, the nuggets appeared, and that was it, that’s how it went,” she told Advance.
Colonnello had initially resisted making the trip to Atlantic City, but said her husband, Dan, convinced her.
“He said, ‘Oh, come on,'” she said. “It ended very well.”
Casino officials confirmed that it was the biggest jackpot in casino history at the time, eclipsing the previous record of $390,000.
One of the first things Colonnello did after the shock of victory wore off was to call his daughter, her mother-in-law and a few close friends.
“My mother-in-law said she knew that [Dan] would be a millionaire one day,” Colonnello told Advance.
Colonnello said she had no immediate plans for the money.
“I often wondered what I would do if I made a lot of money,” she said at the time, “but I didn’t really think about it. Although it will make things easier all around.
The Colonnellos’ daughter and their grandchildren traveled to Atlantic City later in the day to join in the celebration.
“It’s a feeling of emptiness until you have someone to enjoy it with you,” Colonnello said.
The Colonnellos spent that night at the Golden Nugget as hotel guests and returned to the island the next day.
Colonnello told Advance that she practiced a lot playing slot machines. She had previously won $500 on a quarter slot machine, but the $600,000 jackpot had been her first big win on the dollar machine.