The World’s Biggest Keno Winners!
Keno has a happy habit of making millionaires. For the price of just a few dollars, punters can choose their numbers and play for keno jackpots that can reach $20 million! Here we have selected some of the biggest keno winners of all time, each of which have their own unique story to tell. If you have ever wondered whether or not anyone has ever won big in keno, these five winners will put your mind at ease!
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Our list of some of the biggest keno winners of all time includes three trips to Vegas as well as two a little closer to home. The list of winners is as varied as it can be, from a notoriously prolific gambler to a nurse's aide who won big. One winner in particular had a double stroke of luck that even the most credulous of you may struggle to believe!
1. “Eddie” - US$6.4 million (AU$9.9 million)
The biggest recorded keno win of all time came in the home of gambling, Las Vegas. The winner, who worked as a nurse’s aide, used the birthdays of his wife and children to select his winning numbers. Little is known about this winner known as “Eddie” as he chose to sidestep the media circus that accompanied his win to remain anonymous, citing the safety of his family as his main reason for collecting his winnings incognito. His $9.9 million jackpot win remains as the most ever won on keno.
2. “Kallangur Man” - $8 million
There is a lot of talk about keno strategy, and how to play keno the best way. The unusual strategy of one man from Kallangur, however, made a mockery of the “experts” advice! In August 2023 the lucky punter, who wishes to remain anonymous, selected the exact same numbers for two keno games. Although the two games shared the same draw, common keno strategy would advise that different numbers are covered across multiple entries.
This advice was soon shown to be a folly, as the man’s numbers got hit, meaning he won the top prize in both events. One would net him $1.7 million, while the other generated a massive win of $6.7 million! The combined payout was over $8.4 million, which is the biggest keno win in Australian history.
The winner himself had this to say about his “crazy” strategy: “Everyone thought I was crazy for playing the same numbers in both games. Well, they didn’t win $8 million!”.
3. Unnamed Winner - $7.9 million
In 2018 a 43-year-old man celebrated his retirement starting early when he won almost $7.9 million playing keno in New South Wales. The winner entered the draw 13 times, with each entry costing just $2. In one of his entries, he matched ten numbers which gave him his massive windfall. At the time this was the biggest keno win in Australian history, and also just the third time that a ten number jackpot had been hit.
Although the unnamed man had become an instant millionaire, he didn’t foresee too much changing. Indeed, he stated at the time “I’m a laid-back person, so I’m just going to stay the same”.
4. Zeljko Ranogajec - $7.5 million
Zeljko Ranogajec is one of the most famous gamblers of all time, thanks in part to his infamous keno wins in the early 90’s. Ranogajec and his team became prolific keno players when he returned from a notorious spell in Las Vegas. The syndicate were rumoured to have bought up at least 90% of the keno tickets available in New South Wales and eventually he hit a $7.5 million jackpot in 1994.
Whilst this win looks good on paper, some suggest that Ranogajec’s profits would not have been as impressive. This is due to the fact that he is thought to have been spending around $1 million a day on keno tickets in the lead up to his win!
5. Special Mention: Jarred Johnson – Lightning Strikes Twice!
While this win may not have as many zeros as the others on this list, this double win deserves a special mention. Overcoming the odds to take home a big jackpot from any lottery or keno game is special, doing it twice is bordering on the miraculous!
Step forward Jarred Johnson. The Tennessee native, and regular Vegas visitor was in the bar of one his favourite Vegas haunts when the bar man recommended he give video slots a go. The bar man even went one step further and suggested five of the numbers he should choose. Jarred took up the advice, went on a winning streak across Vegas that culminated in a US$140,000 (AU$218,00) win. Jarred was a happy man.
If the story ended there, it would be a legendary tale of fortune. However, a month later Johnson’s journey went from the legendary to the miraculous as he won $140,000! Again. At the same machine. With the same numbers. They say that anything can happen in Vegas, but this is one of the stories that really tests that theory!
Oh, and just in case you want to test just how lucky Jarred’s numbers really are, he played with 8, 9, 10, 18, 19, 20, 29. Good luck!