New Jersey man defies 20 million-to-1 odds to win $1 million at poker game

A poker player at a New Jersey casino managed to win $1 million from a $5 bet – the day after he found out that his wife was cancer-free.

The man who overcame the 20 million-to-1 odds to take home the prize was identified by the New York Post as Harold McDowell, 85, of Lakewood.

“It must be luck of the Irish,” McDowell told the newspaper. “They’re both great news.”

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McDowell, during a three-card poker game at the Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City on Saturday, hit a royal straight flush of diamonds.

“I happened to be playing next to my wife. I had my back to her. I turned around said, 'I just won a million dollars,'” he told the New York Post. “She told me, 'You’re full of crap.'”

Harold was dealt a 10, queen and ace of diamonds. The dealer’s hand was the nine, jack and king of diamonds.

It was the first time the bet had been hit at the Borgata, officials said.

McDowell says his wife has undergone multiple surgeries and has been in and out of hospitals in recent years with liver and colon cancer.

“It was better news that she’s healthy — money isn’t the most important thing,” he told the New York Post.

McDowell says the casino took out at least $200,000 in taxes from his winnings. He plans to give most of the rest to their kids.

“Our lives will probably stay pretty much the same. But it might get better for our children,” he said. “Maybe we’ll take a cruise.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.