Nebraska man wins $1 million at Pine Ridge casino

2013-02-19T06:00:00Z Nebraska man wins $1 million at Pine Ridge casinoMary Garrigan Journal staff Rapid City Journal
February 19, 2013 6:00 am  • 

Talk about worth the wait.

A retired railroad conductor won a million-dollar jackpot last week in a 25-cent slot machine after he decided to kill some time while waiting for his wife at the Prairie Wind Casino on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Gordon "Bud" Thompson, 80, said he had put about $9 worth of quarters into a three-reel machine at about 1 p.m. on Feb. 14 when he hit a $1,037,375.93 progressive payout that froze the machine and briefly confused him.

"It just locked up on me and had something on the top that said 'verify,'" said Thompson of Alliance, Neb. He said he had no idea the size of the payout until "somebody from the casino figured it out," he said. "All at once, it hits you in the fanny and you just don't know what to think."

Thompson doesn't expect his winnings from Rocket Gaming Systems, which is wholly owned by the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, until May or June. And he still doesn't know how big the check will be after taxes.

"We don't even know what we're going to get yet," he said. "They'll get quite a bit I guess, the government."

The rest he expects to share with his wife of 60 years, Donna, and their three sons, 12 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

The former conductor for the Burlington Northern Railroad said he had no immediate plans to splurge on any special item.

"No, not really. We've been pretty well satisfied with what we've got," Thompson said. In fact, his first words after he realized the size of his jackpot were: "Call my Edward D. Jones financial outfit down here in Alliance," he said. "We turned it over to a financial advisor."

The Thompsons do expect to continue their monthly trips that they've been making to the casino ever since the Oglala Sioux Tribe opened it 18 years ago just east of Oelrichs on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Thompson's jackpot was the largest in the casino's history.

"Oh, sure. It's just something to do," he said. "I'm not a big gambler. One time, way back when, I won $600." 

Besides, his last casino trip got cut short by his big win.

"We quit for the day after that. It took three, four, five hours to get all the paperwork done," he said.

He's enjoying the local attention his million dollar jackpot has generated in Alliance, a town of 8,000 people where his son owns a convenience store. 

"I go up to my son's store to visit and everybody comes in and gives me a hard time," he said. 

Nobody has asked him for a loan, either.

"Nope. They know I'm too tight."

Contact Mary Garrigan at 394-8424 or

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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