WOOLMARKET, MS (WLOX) - The huge Powerball jackpot has a lot of people seeing dollar signs and dreaming of how they would spend that money. A Woolmarket man is living his dream, after winning the largest slot machine jackpot in state history.
Tom McMillan will never forget 3:45 p.m., February 10th, 2009. He sat down to play a slot machine at a Biloxi casino. About an hour later, he became an instant multi-millionaire. His life has certainly changed since that lucky moment.
"This is the bar that I bought in Weatherford, and I had it disassembled and I reassembled it myself," said Tom McMillan.
A restored antique bar is the centerpiece of McMillan's dream man cave. The room is chockfull of Saints memorabilia and mementos of his latest passion -- NASCAR. McMillan and his wife Arlene Miller even bought a share of their own race car.
"The cup team that we got into for a couple of years, the investments, we bought a motor home to go to the NASCAR," said McMillan.
The retired couple can certainly afford these luxuries after winning a record-setting Mississippi jackpot.
"Every once in a while, I'll get somebody, 'I know you. I've seen you before.' If they keep pushing, I'll tell them, 'Yeah, I'm the $14 million man,'" said McMillan.
The jumbo $14 million check, a souvenir of the big win, hangs in the couple's game room.
"It still brings back memories. I remember getting it," said McMillan.
It was four years ago, February 10th, McMillan sat down at his favorite Wheel of Fortune progressive slot machine at the Hard Rock Casino.
"This is where the machine was. Of course, it's a different machine," he explained.
He put in $300. Then, he was down to just $10. As always, he agreed to play for only an hour. But this time, his wife decided to give him 15 more minutes. That decision changed their lives forever.
"And then he goes, 'Up there.' And I said, 'Oh, yeah, okay, $14 million. I see that.' I said, 'What?'" Miller exclaimed.
Once the initial shock wore off, they had to figure out what to do with their newfound wealth.
"I'm tickled to death to have something like that. I've never had money. So it was just, I just kind of took it all in," said McMillan.
"And we came home and we discussed it, and we said we don't want to change our lifestyle," said his wife.
The two still live in the same house they bought when they moved to Woolmarket ten years ago. They did use some of their winnings to pay off the mortgages on both their home and a house on the river, and do some remodeling.
They've also helped out family and friends by donating to college funds, paying for home improvements, and purchasing about a dozen new cars.
"I feel like we've done good with the money," said Miller.
"And that's all that counts. If you pass it on, that's all that counts," said McMillan.
"We weren't the type to go get a mansion, get people living in, nannies, all that stuff. We didn't have children. But housekeepers and chauffeurs, no, that's just not us," said Miller.
And thanks to that lucky spin on the Wheel of Fortune, McMillan can splurge on some new wheels for himself. He has a collection of five hot rods, including a '41 Willys Coupe and a '34 Ford Cabriolet. He enjoys showing off his "toys" while Cruisin' the Coast.
When asked how he feels to be able to live his dream, McMillan replied, "Very good, very good, yep, satisfied."
Being rich does come with a price. The couple still get bombarded with requests for donations.
"We have got a stack of mail this big around every day," said McMillan as he held up his hands to demonstrate.
They give to charities they support and even share their blessings with strangers, especially when it comes to tipping.
"They can't believe it. I usually give them a $100 bill, and I tell them right then, 'I'm going to give this to you, but you have to do one thing for me. You have to promise to pay it forward,'" said McMillan.
He has covered all the bases, from giving back to paying his bills and investing. And McMillan continues to tempt Lady Luck. At least once a week, you can find him at the Hard Rock. He still has that winning touch.
"There we go again. What can I say? I'm just lucky I guess," McMillan said after winning $200 on one machine.
It has been a lucky life for him, his wife, and for those who've benefited from their generosity.
"We couldn't help those people if we hadn't won this. So I think God was looking down on me and I'm doing what I think is right. It's been a good life," said McMillan.
Tom McMillan worked as a trainer for maintenance supervisors in Florida before retiring in South Mississippi. He won a total of $14,387,000 and some change. However, he chose a lump sum payment of $9.1 million. McMillan said he tries to spend his money in Mississippi, and he still only plays for an hour at the slot machine.