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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Thursday, Sep. 9, 2021 4 months ago

Front line COVID-19 nurse hits it big at casino

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Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa gives away $112,000 car to celebrate $1 billion in payouts
by: Louis Llovio Commercial Real Estate Editor

It’s not every day that you pull up in a Ford Taurus and leave a few hours later in a $112,000 BMW.

But that’s exactly what happened to Duane Kelloway of Spring Hill recently.

Kelloway, 50, is an operating nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital North in Lutz. Over the past few weeks, he’s been intubating far too many COVID-19 patients.

Feeling stressed and overworked, he and his wife, Kelley, who’s also a nurse, decide they need to blow off a little steam. Like a lot of people, they figure the best place to do that is the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa.

So that Saturday, they jump into their 2013 Ford Taurus and add 50 or so more miles to an odometer that’s nearing the 200,000-mile mark. At the casino, Duane settles in and starts playing a Double Hill progressive slot machine. He bets $3, pushes the button and…jackpot!

And that’s when everything gets surreal.

This “lady came and said I can’t pay you right now, I have to verify it,” he says later. “I was starting to panic because I thought something was wrong with the machine.”

The machine is just fine.

But all of a sudden, Duane says, a crowd of people swarm, a band is playing, there are dancing girls and guys on stilts. And if that isn’t strange enough, somewhere in the crowd is legendary Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks.

What Duane soon learns is that the $2,450 jackpot he's won pushes the casino’s slot payout for the year over the $1 billion mark.

“Everybody is running around, and I don’t know what the hell is going,” he says. “And Derrick Brooks is here, too. I didn’t even get to talk to Derrick Brooks.”

Duane says he's weak in the knees, hyperventilating and close to passing out when Seminole Hard Rock gives him a choice between taking ten times his jackpot or a 2022 BMW X7 M50i worth $112,245.

He takes the car.

“Everybody is at the brink,” he says of his work with COVID patients. “Maybe it’s payback from God or somebody. This is very emotional. Can’t believe it. Can’t believe it.”

Coffee Talk is unable to confirm whether Duane or Kelley drove the Taurus back to Spring Hill or if Derrick Brooks got a ride in the new BMW.

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