Man plays slots in honor of dead friend, wins $7.2 million

I have often wondered about the connection between the living and the dead.

Indeed, I see several instances of it whenever I have dinner in the restaurants of San Francisco.

All too often, one party in a couple is animated. The other seems ready for cryogenics.

Still, I’d like to believe that those who have already gone occasionally sprinkle a little something toward those who have been left behind to suffer a little more.

My belief has been strengthened by the story of 73-year-old Tyler Morris.

He was sad that his friend Max Anderson had died. Together with his wife, Mary, he drove to the funeral.

On the way back, he thought he needed a little pick-me-up.

He remembered how Anderson had enjoyed a little flutter at The Palace Casino Resort in Biloxi, Miss.

One imagines this might be one of the star attractions there.

Tyler Morris, multimillionaire.

Tyler Morris, multimillionaire.

Anderson had been a slots man through and through. So, as NBC’s Today Show reports, Morris thought he’d cast his slot to the winds and play the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship machine.

I hadn’t thought that one slot machine was all that different from another.

You put money in, wheels spin around and you win a little and lose a lot.

It is a form of gambling that is very reflective of life itself. It its way, it’s life-affirming.

Just how life-affirming Morris might tell you himself. For he sat down, committed his $3.50 maximum bet, and, on the second push, won.

Well, perhaps the word “won” seems tame when what flowed out of the machine was $7.2 million.

Morris seems to be a man for understatement. He told the Today Show: “As I was playing, I thought I was getting the message from my friend.”

The message certainly wasn’t: “Hi, how are you Tyler?”

It was more: “Hey, how d’ya like them gollums, baby?”

The Morris’s had driven 1200 miles from Michigan for the funeral. They were tired out of their skulls. Tyler Morris hardly ever plays slot machines.

Especially, he said, the puny penny slots.

And yet something, someone, or some spirit told him this is what he must do.

Winning a lot of money has often been a curse to those who initially think they have enjoyed good fortune.

The annals of tabloid history are full of those who won when young, squandered the money and then ended up in drug-addled penury or even dead.

Sometimes, they’re overwhelmed by the expectations and demands placed upon them by others, who expect they deserve a cut as some sort of payment for friendship, kinship or mere gall.

On the other hand, when older people win, it seems a little cruel. It’s too late for them to fully enjoy their money in a way that they might have done in their youth.

But in their youth, they might have squandered it.

Even Richard Branson this week declared that “stuff” is not what brings happiness. It’s odd how it’s always the stuffed who tells us this.

But Branson insisted: “Family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters.”

He may be right.

So many people, though, would just like to have the option of trying out being stuff-laden as well as stuffless, before it’s too late.

In Max Anderson’s case, perhaps he couldn’t help Tyler Morris when he was alive. But he helped him as soon as he could.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if one day, we find there is an after-life in which the dead are desperately trying to communicate with the living in order to steer them to a better life?

Perhaps the dead make bets on who will be most successful.


Image: The Today Show Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk