Waipahu woman, a Vegas novice, wins $2.4M


POSTED: Thursday, November 20, 2008

A 24-year-old baby sitter who did not plan on gambling during her first trip to Las Vegas won $2.4 million on a Wheel of Fortune slot machine Tuesday at the California Hotel and Casino.

“;I'm excited,”; Jessica Agbunag of Waipahu said yesterday during a phone interview from Las Vegas. “;I didn't even know I would win. I just wanted to come up here and shop.”;

Agbunag, a 2002 graduate of Waipahu High School, hit the jackpot on the birthday of her grandmother Victoria Savella, who died two years ago.

“;Everybody was like, 'Grandma was with you,'”; she said.

Agbunag and her relatives took the Las Vegas trip in remembrance of her grandmother's birthday as well as to celebrate the birthdays of two cousins who recently turned 21. Agbunag said her grandmother often took trips to Las Vegas and stayed at the California Hotel.

“;She loved to come to Vegas. She was a Vegas lady,”; she said.

Her grandmother's game of choice: slot machines.

Before hitting the $2 million jackpot, Agbunag won twice on other Wheel of Fortune machines earlier in the week at the California Hotel and Casino, where they stayed.

When they arrived Sunday night, Agbunag won $300 on a $1 slot machine. The following morning, she won $280 on the 25-cent slot machine. Later that day, she said, she stopped gambling after she started to lose money.

At about 11:40 p.m. Tuesday, Agbunag wanted to see whether she could regain her winning streak and inserted $16—a $10 bill, $5 bill and $1 bill—into a Wheel of Fortune dollar MegaJackpot slot machine.

She hit $2,436,465.

At first Agbunag thought she won $2,000—but her boyfriend, Andy Hernandez, was yelling ecstatically that she won $2 million. Other casino players flocked around her, affirming that she hit the big bucks.

“;I was like shaking, crying. I still couldn't believe it. I was still asking everybody, 'Are you serious, are you serious?'”;

Agbunag, who baby-sits her nephew and two nieces, said she has yet to determine what to do with her winnings, but said she plans to give money to family members with whom she lives. She also plans to use a portion of her winnings to pay off a $2,400 car loan for her Nissan Maxima.

Agbunag is due to return to Hawaii today.

In August, 26-year-old Jasmine A. Yamauchi of Waipio won $1.8 million on a Wheel of Fortune slot machine at the California.