Unless you live in one those countries that I’d rather not talk about, winning anything in terms of thousands is a big deal. Hundreds of thousands…? Even better…!
But what if you hit a jackpot win worth a million, or better yet, a few millions?
Most of us almost jump into a "daydream" trance for a few seconds at the mention of such an “obscene” amount of free gambling money! We’ve all had those moments where we let our minds wander and we imagine how it would be, or how it would feel like to be the one holding that dummy check on national TV and having people (both known and unknown) admire you from far and wide; and, of course, talk about what they’d do with all that money if they had the same luck as you.
Well, that’s basically me, and you, and slightly over 90% of the people reading this article with you right now… or even 100% of the people you know (for some)…! Let’s face it, a life of luxury and zero hard work is everybody’s dream… right?
However, this is not the case for some of the 10-percent-ers (or so…) who run into lady luck on her good days. Some of us (lucky bustards… and some ladies…) actually get to live the dream.
Our team at Jackpot Winners dot.com led by the chief editor, Carl Lindth, managed to track down and interview one Swedish jackpot winner, Monika Pallas Hakansson, from the icy slopes of Kiruna, Lapland. Our lucky jackpot winner walked away with slightly over 3 Million Euros (€ 3, 028, 531 or SEK 29, 050, 275) after landing a jackpot win while playing the popular Playtech’s Jackpot Giant online video slot from one of the trendy online casinos in the market. It took awhile for the JW team to literally corner her and pin her down for an interview but we are glad to report that the efforts (plus a ton of back-and-forth emails) finally paid off.
Get ready to learn how it feels like to come from a humble background and become an instant millionaire overnight. This is what the lovely and soft spoken Monika had to say about her jackpot win, her life before the win, and her new life as a rich lady.
Disclaimer: Team JW is not responsible for any feelings of jealousy or misguided anger that you may develop as a result of reading this extract from our very long interview. Enjoy…
Let’s jump right into it…
JW: Good afternoon Monika? Or do you prefer Pallas?
Monika: (with a slight giggle…) Good afternoon Carl… and your team of course… JW is it? You can call me Monika. I have to admit, you guys are really persistent.
JW: Well, Monika, thank you for this opportunity… and the kind compliment. The entire JW team also appreciates your humble gesture. And thank you for the juice…
Monika: You're all welcome… and don't worry about it, I can afford it now… haha
JW: So about that, can you please tell the world who Monika Hakansson is?
Monika: (clears her throat…) Can you believe that I don’t have an answer for that question…and I’ve heard it like a lot in the past few months! Like really… who sits to think about what they’d say about themselves in a few sentences? All I can say is that I come from a quiet neighborhood where life is relatively easy and I love the secluded serenity. I mean… we literally ride dog sleds to work up there! I’m a mother of one, my 3-year old son Rian, I’m in my late 20’s just in case you were going to ask me about my age (giggles…), sorry that’s all you get for now… you never ask a woman about her age you know…? I’m married to a lovely man, my husband, and the love of my life, Chris Hakansson. I have very many friends, both at work and at home… and oh, the bank now. Does that cover it…?
JW: That will have to do for now… So, once again, please tell the world, when and how did it all happen?
Monika: I like telling this part… (She adjusts herself in her seat with enthusiasm and a wide smile), I was having a regular Thursday evening at home with my son Rian after closing the shop. Don’t let the designer clothes fool you… I run a shop in back at home and it’s a dirty job. Anyway, we were waiting for Chris to get home as usual… he’s an IT guy at one of the major companies in Kiruna.
Now, I’m a Candy Crush die-hard fan and I can play the thing for hours. I’ve played candy crush for as long as I can remember… I just love it. I also recently became… well, more like a year and a half ago… I became a fan of online gaming and I just couldn’t stop playing Sweet Party video slots. It’s the closest thing to Candy Crush that I found in online casinos. So it’s always been a switch between Candy Crush and Sweet Party slots whenever I have a few minutes to myself; both at the store and at home. I was playing Sweet Party slots at Ladbrokes on this particular Thursday and I was chilling on the couch with Rian, busy doing our “waiting for daddy thing”, playing Sweet Party and cheering for small wins. There was about €36 left in there and I played a couple of free spins before deciding to wager real money. I went for about 14 or 15 spins without winning anything big but I wasn’t really after winning anything big par se… it was just a way to keep me and Rian busy until he luckily dozed off or his daddy came home and got him off my aching arms. Anyway, I gave up because the losses were becoming a bit depressing and my balance had dwindled down to about €14… And that’s when it happened…
Immediately after pressing the go back button to navigate back to the main slots page I left Rian with my phone then turned with the remote to scroll channels on the TV for something interesting… I guess it completed loading during this time and something caught Rian’s attention. I remember he tagged on my shirt calling me while pointing at a heavily bearded man and he was shouting “Mamma ser farbror Gus - Mum look Uncle Gus”. His uncle - my brother - is actually called Gregorius but that’s what Rian calls him, Gus… and he has such a big bush on his face that you can’t even tell whether he has a mouth! So I looked away to the TV once again and by the time I was turning back to Rian he was spinning away on Uncle Gus’s game, Jackpot Giant. He’s what you’d call a 3-year old with an overactive imagination… and some naughtiness I guess. It was in-between this time with me wondering whether to scold him for wasting mummy’s €10 on several accidental spins and me taking the phone away from him that everything went topsy-turvy…! A moment of higgledy-piggledy half-hearted betting, or whatever you want to call it, quickly turned into a blessing. I don’t consider myself a “scared money” kind of player so I decided to have one last go with the entire €4 remaining in my account – but more out of frustration than enthusiasm - and that’s when lady luck dropped her magic.
All I remember is a flashing screen with the words Big Win, the amount starting with a three and followed by figures that seemed to go on forever was also flashing on the screen, gold coins raining all over the screen, and some loud cheery (but corny) music in the background… even the TV was flashing at this point! Nothing was still; and not to sound like a bad mom, but I almost dropped my little munchkin, Rian. Everything was happening so fast. I just picked him up slowly and moved him to the side, placed him slowly on the couch, then turned my attention to my phone. My phone was still blaring and I was busy trying to count the numbers to figure out how much I had won. It was a surreal moment. My mind still couldn’t make out the figure so I decided to pick up a notebook and a pen and I wrote all the numbers one by one… then moved on to place the commas… and that's when it hit me… I had won 3 million Euros!
The funny part about all this is that Jackpot Giant is not even a game I’d choose to play if I was asked to play anything else apart from Sweet Party. My plan was actually to close up everything and put my phone aside for some TV. As I said earlier, it’s always Candy Crush, Sweet Party, or maybe checking on my social media… I guess I owe it all to Rian’s curiosity and partly to Uncle Gus for keeping a bushy Santa Claus beard! As a matter of fact, everyone in the family always jokes about how he should move to the North Pole and become a real Santa…
JW: Wow! That's quite a story and some crazy final minute luck. How did it feel to win a 3-Million-Euro Jackpot?
I was up and jumping all over our living room, screaming like a teenage girl at a boy-band concert. Rian got confused and started crying, I picked him up and kissed him like a thousand times but he was still confused and looked at me like I was nuts…! I sat him down and tried to explain to him how his next birthday party will be like, so fabulous and what cool presents he’d get from mummy and daddy…
I have to admit, I was also pretty bewildered at this point. The excitement and confusion went on until Chris got home and found us giggling to each other. Truth be told, I was going through a rollercoaster of emotions… nothing was clear.
JW: So, did you tell anyone right away? Your husband… Other family members or friends…? Gus…?
Monika: I did not tell Chris right away. I couldn’t call and tell anyone else either because I wasn’t sure whether it was a prank or not. I tried to play it cool throughout dinner and after dinner but Chris was somewhat noticing that I was excited about something. I decided to relieve the tension by asking him about his day to keep him talking so that I didn’t have to say anything and spill the beans about the jackpot win… It was really hard. We went to bed and I couldn’t sleep. I managed to doze off a few times all through the night but I was awake for the most part of it as far as I can remember. I wasn’t sure what I was waiting for and I don’t even know why I didn’t tell Chris the following morning but we all left for work as usual and I dropped off Rian at our usual daycare center.
I opened the store and went straight to work because I wanted to keep my mind off my phone. All this time I avoided going online on my phone. I also didn’t want to call the online casino guys either. I kept thinking that I’d login into my Ladbroke account and find that it was all a sick joke. That’s part of the reason why I never told anyone right away (including Chris); because I didn’t want to end up looking like dummy… you know? I had resolved to one decision... I was going to wait for these online casino guys from Ladbrokes to call me because I was too nervous even to touch my email. And call me they did.
I’ll never forget that day. It was around noon that I received the phone call. One of my suppliers had just left and I had received some of the goods on credit. I mean, despite the unconfirmed “jackpot situation” from the previous night, it was still a normal day for me. Debtors and creditors are always there in any business.
Receiving calls from anonymous numbers was not a new thing for me since I had many customers passing my number around to refer more customers. Suppliers did the same with fellow suppliers. I didn't think much of the incoming call from a strange number because I was expecting it to be someone who was either looking for something at my store or looking to sell me something… a new supplier maybe? You can imagine my shock and excitement when the lady at the other end of the line started talking about “my lucky jackpot win” and congratulating me…
To tell you the truth, I never got anything this lady said after she mentioned the words “jackpot win”… there was so much blood rushing to my brain, I started shaking, my mind almost caved in on itself, I couldn’t fathom what was going on at that time. Everything became blurry… I almost fainted so I sat down and held the phone on my lap and I put the lady on louder speaker. All I could manage at this point was a few one-word responses… my mind just went “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God…” The only thing I remember from that 5-minute conversation is the part where she asked me to check the confirmation email.
Immediately after talking to the online casino’s representative I took a minute to catch my breath and take it all in then I called Chris. He was at the shop in less than an hour! Chris was on a field assignment so he managed to make the time. Another hour later we had picked up Rian from daycare and we were at home. Everything was moving too fast but the emotional turmoil going on between me and Chris was tremendous. Chris paced around our living room the entire time while I sat on the couch - with Rian all over my shoulders - waiting for him to say something.
We decided to follow up with the casino guys first, which we did through our lawyer, a close friend of Chris. Then we later told our parents and siblings when the check finally cashed out and money was safe in my bank account. It was not fiction anymore… I really had 2.6 Million Euros (and some change) sitting in my bank account after weeks of correspondence through emails and phone calls (sometimes through our lawyer…). The payment process was long and agonizing but it was completed without too many hiccups. It was worth it in the end…
The money was finally deposited in my account on a Tuesday and I got a call from the bank to confirm that. Chris was busy with work that week but we managed to pop a bottle of wine with a few friends and family that Tuesday evening at the store and did a small celebration at our house that weekend. Nothing fancy… but it was great because we had everything we needed… and we could afford it without the usual bedroom budget brainstorming and too many opportunity costs!
JW: Did you hold a press conference? How was it immediately after the confirmation from Ladbrokes and realizing you’d won the jackpot for real?
Monika: No. Chris and I made a firm decision to remain anonymous. We also communicated this to Ladbrokes right from the start, and that’s why I’ll ask you to keep details about my personal life to a minimum. I’m only doing this interview to let other online casino players know that progressive Jackpot wins through online slots are real and possible… and they can change anyone’s life.
JW: Do you normally play on a regular? Was it a one-time thing? And would you consider yourself a problem gambler?
Monika: You know what they say… you definitely have to be in it to win it! And I go by the words of my favorite Justin Bieber song… “Never Say Never”…
Anyway, to answer your questions real quick, I’d consider myself less than an average player. I mean, I’m kind of into Sweet Party slots kind of as an extension of my love for Candy Crush… I’m more into it for the fun more than the financial gain. You can call me one of the few fortunate in-and-out punters who get lucky without putting in the effort… you know what I mean? Like, I’m not a daily gambler… in fact, sometimes I’d even play once a week, or twice in a month. Mostly it was me depositing 50 Euros into my Ladbrokes account then making it last for as long as possible to keep the thrill going. All I had ever envisioned was maybe winning something like 10k Euros to help me set up my shop and perhaps surprise my family with something nice; absolutely nothing in the lines of hundreds of thousands, leave alone a Jackpot win worth millions.
So, I was an average regular player and I don’t think that would be considered a gambling problem, would it?
JW: What Major changes have you seen in your life so far?
Monika: Let me just say… ever since the win was confirmed and I received the lump sum payment of 2.6 Million Euros in my bank account, after waiting for what seemed like forever, the extent to which I suddenly did not care about debts and mortgages and bills could not be measured. Everything was finally in place… and fully paid for or waiting to be settled.
JW: Any new investments? A house… or a car? Or cars maybe…? A new dog sled or a boat…?
Monika: You really ask too many questions at once… (she giggles and sips her juice…). Well, I understand we are short of time so I’ll try to keep it simple and short. We have half a million Euros in a fixed account, Rian’s education is set, we are thinking of having two more kids now and we know they’ll be okay.
No new investments on my part. I just upgraded the shop and settled all my debts. I'm taking some business administration classes and I hope to graduate next year. Chris, on the other hand, quit his job and started his own IT solutions firm which is doing great. He has 6 permanent employees and he likes being called boss… although he's always there with the crew on projects, getting his hands dirty with the rest of the guys. I guess he enjoys doing what he’s always wanted to do; only this time on his own terms. I’m really happy for him.
About the house, well, despite the struggles and everything, we had managed to build our own home from the ground up. It's a 4-bedroom house somewhere close to the mountains and we just love it. We can’t imagine leaving it. We love our neighbors and we also want to bring up our family here. It’s close to everything and everyone we need. Kiruna is a nice place. I also can’t visualize myself living anywhere else in Sweden. We just carried out one major refurbishment and replaced all the cheap stuff with what was in the original plan but we couldn’t afford. We also spruced up the yard a bit and added some outdoor lights. Chris was also thinking of expanding into home security systems so he tried his idea at our home because he could now gather all the gadgets he needed.
We only had one car, a Golf GT that we had pooled to buy together with Chris. He, however, managed to talk me into buying him a "Boss Car" to match his recently acquired status… and that's how a Mercedes G-Class SUV (coupe) ended up in our garage! The best $78, 000 I’ve ever spent because Chris loved it, Rian likes riding in it, heck I also like it when we’re both driving in his cool car. I kept the Golf and painted it purple. We also got Uncle Gus a new car and a tux, full with shoes. We bought so many things for the rest of the family members and also helped in other ways. Same with our close friends…
Besides that, everything else is pretty much the same. A simple life surrounded by snow… just the way we’ve always wanted it… only this time we have the money to do what we couldn’t do before. Maybe now we can buy dog sleds…!
JW: How are the relationships with your family and friends before and after the jackpot win?
Monika: As I mentioned earlier, we decided to keep the whole “jackpot shenanigans” away from the public. Everyone in our family and our close friends know this and they’ve respected our wishes so far. Even Chris had to lie about why he was quitting his job. Nobody at his previous company knows anything about our windfall. Everything else with the family and friends has pretty much remained the same. Of course, some of them seem to have so many cash problems right now but Chris and I are handling it fine. We are not extravagant and we’re not mean, we’re always there for our family and friends when the problem is genuine and within our capacity to deal with it. To the outside world, we’re still the same… I even get some goods at the store on credit from my old suppliers ha ha. The business has to sustain itself and I’m really careful with the books now.
JW: Last but not least, how many vacations have you treated yourself (and your family) to since landing the win…?
Monika: One…! Can you believe it? Oh my God, this is the second vacation we had planned and I’ve spent half of this day talking to you guys. Not that I’m complaining… we had scheduled into the day’s itinerary… ha ha. The interview was fun… I feel like a movie star. We stayed home and invited everyone last Christmas… it was the best Christmas ever! Apart from that, it's just been the usual weekend outings with friends and sometimes just the three of us. You know…? Enjoying life to the max... Plus, we are not so much into vacationing, it’s not our thing.
JW: What are your plans for the future… and online gambling?
Monika: I just want to secure the future for my family. Chris and I are both hard workers and we know we’ll be fine. Things are great at the store and Chris is doing fine with his company. As I said earlier, it’s two more babies and a happily ever after. I guess I can’t quit playing Sweet Party so the gambling will still be there from time to time… just like before. I don’t know what I’d do if I won another jackpot… that would really be something, right?
JW: Finally, what advice or final word would you like to tell everyone reading this interview?
Monika: Well, I guess all I can say to everyone who plays in online casinos or is thinking of starting is to keep trying your luck at online slots. You never know… you could be the next jackpot winner. I wasn’t even playing my favorite game Sweet Party when it happened for me (No offense to Playtech… and fans of the Jackpot Giant slot), therefore all online punters should have faith in knowing that your luck may literally fall on your laps from anywhere!
JW: Thank you very much, Monika, for everything. Enjoy the rest of your vacation.
And that’s the short version of our 3-hour interview with our lucky (and very modest) jackpot winner from Kiruna, Sweden. You read it, now believe it… anyone can win the jackpot, including you!
Stay tuned for our next exhilarating jackpot winner interviews from around the world…
PLEASE NOTE: All anonymous jackpot winners are cordially invited for an email interview or a face to face interview where possible. Please go to the contact page and submit your request/story. Hope to hear from you soon.
And team JW is off to hunt for the next jackpot winner story.