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Rick Wimp strikes it rich

Rick Wimp strikes it rich
Rick Wimp strikes it rich
Rick Wimp keeps his big $668,300 slot machine check at Rick's Service Center north of Corydon. (Photo by Randy West)

Auto mechanic Rick Wimp says he hasn’t changed at all since he won $668,000 at a casino in Biloxi, Miss., but his wife, Georgette, has noticed that he seems to have more relatives than before.
Rick, 60, goes to the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi twice a year to gamble while his wife shops, walks the beach, and goes to shows. Rick usually plays the $100 “Red, White and Blue” slot machines. However, the last time he was there, on Feb. 7, he was winning but only two of the slots were open, and by 10:30 that night, after he’d been there for four or five hours, the slots were “all filled up” and wouldn’t accept any more money. They would have to be emptied later.
Rick found a $25 “progressive” slot machine to feed. It’s “progressive” in that the total amount keeps piling up until somebody hits it big. This particular machine had never been hit in the five years Beau Rivage has been open.
Rick figured he had played up to $300 when he scored on a $4,000 jackpot. He put the $300 back in the machine plus another $800 and, bingo! A sign above his slot started flashing “Red, White and Blue!” He had just won $668,000!
“I about fainted,” Rick said. “I went limp.” A big crowd gathered around him, congratulating him on the incredible payoff. “I didn’t know what to do.” One thing he did was wait. After winning at 11 p.m., he had to wait until 3 a.m. to get his check. First, Mississippi Gaming Commission officials had to come over from Jackson, Miss., to examine the machine and declare everything legal.
Georgette took it all in stride.
“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy,” said Lena Sieg of Ramsey, one of his customers at Rick’s Service Center, which he has owned and operated for 35 years.
The casino gave him a check for $648,251 (the state of Mississippi took its share, $20,000, off the top). Rick can’t do anything with his money for 11 bank days, although he can borrow up to $5,000 on it. Rick figures the federal government will take out a huge chunk, perhaps as much as $250,000. “That’s what they tell me,” he said. “If I clear $400,000, I’ll be tickled to death.”
The rest is now in First Harrison Bank in Corydon, where he plans to keep it … forever. He has an appointment later this week with a financial adviser.
The only thing Rick will do with his newfound wealth is pay off his son Rick’s mortgage. The rest stays in the bank.
Meanwhile, Rick says, nothing will change. He will continue to come to work at Rick’s Service Center north of Corydon on S.R. 135 “until they haul me outa here. People here depend on me for their jobs, and I enjoy comin’ to work every morning.” Georgette isn’t a gambler and isn’t particularly fascinated with money, so her life will likely stay the same, too, he said. They have been married since 1966.
Wimp said he likes to gamble but it’s not an addiction. He doesn’t have a problem with it. “I can walk away any time I want,” he said. He usually goes to the casino with a certain amount of money he’s willing to lose, but once he hits that mark, “I go home.” He doesn’t want to jeopardize his family or his livelihood. He gambles at Caesars Indiana at Bridgeport about once a month, usually on Sundays, but doesn’t seem to do as well at riverboat casinos as he does at “land-based operations.” He doesn’t know why.
He and Georgette and their 16-year-old Beagle, Millie, hop in their motor home twice a year and head south, to Tunica and Biloxi for vacation.
Rick says his recreation consists of gambling and following NASCAR stock car racing. “I don’t drink, I don’t raise nine kinds of cain. This is all I do,” he said. After he got his check, they continued their vacation, going to the race in Daytona and then visiting his brother, James, 65, in Lake Placid, Fla., after he hit it big.
During that same trip, he won $15,000 to $20,000 at Hollywood Casino in Tunica, which provided the money for him to play at Biloxi. He lost it before he won the “Red, White and Blue.”
His advice to other gamblers? “Don’t play unless you can afford it.”
Will he keep gambling, now that he has a nice nest egg in the bank?
“Definitely,” he said. “I’ve lived without this money before and I can live without it now. It’s nice to know we have it, but it will stay in the bank.”