For a moment, Katrina Bookman thought her life had changed.
The Queens woman and mother of four, who was recently laid off from her housekeeping job, won $43 million playing slots at the Resorts World Casino in August. When the 10 figures—$42,949,642.76—flashed across her machine, Bookman flashed a multimillion dollar smile in a selfie with the screen. When it happened, she told the New York Daily News her "body went numb."
Raised in foster care, Bookman was homeless as a teen, but went on to graduate high school and raised four kids, she told ABC7.
"The struggle I've been through, it's hard to cope," she told the TV station.
But Bookman never received her jackpot prize. Or any money, for that matter.
The casino near the John F. Kennedy Airport escorted Bookman off the floor amid chaos that ensued after she reported her winnings. They told her to come back the next day. When she did, a casino representative told Bookman she "didn't win nothing."
The New York State Gaming Commission blamed the winning screen on a machine malfunction, and said she wouldn't receive a payout. To settle their beef, the commission offered the Queens woman a steak dinner.
"There was nothing wrong with it when I was playing the machine,” Bookman told the Daily News. "How do we know when there’s a problem with it? Once I hit something, now you’re going to say it’s a problem. I totally don’t think that was fair."
The commission said it pulled the machine immediately and fixed it. By law, the regulatory agency can't award Bookman her $42 million. It told ABC7 she's only entitled to $2.25.
Now, Bookman is now suing.
Her lawyer, Alan Ripka, said the casino should honor her advertised win, and if the machine was broken, the casino should at least refund everyone who played but didn't win.
"You can't have it both ways," he told the Daily News. "They're saying the machine was broken [but] doesn’t that mean a place can claim a machine is broken every time somebody wins?"