LINCOLN, CA -- Thunder Valley casino has given away eight cars and trucks in the past two months, and four of them have gone to the same Sacramento woman.
Last Sunday, the woman won a Lexus convertible worth $43,000 and the week before it was a Mercedes convertible worth $47,000. Last month she won two pickup trucks.
For reasons that will become clear, the woman has asked News10 to use just her first name, Salina.
Salina said she could not believe her run of good luck - and apparently other gamblers couldn't either. One of them sent an anonymous fax to News10 questioning the legitimacy of the drawings.
Thunder Valley spokesman Doug Elmets said casino security officials reviewed video of the drawings and were convinced they were legitimate. "After the second time she won we immediately went and investigated to make certain everything was perfectly clear," he said.
The truck and convertible drawings work like this: Players accumulate tickets during the week based on their amount of slot and table play. Tickets are then drawn from a drum Sunday evening until 10 players are chosen to select one envelope each. Nine envelopes contain cash awards of up to $1,000, and one lucky player will win the car or truck.
Elmets said Salina is one of the casino's top players, so her odds of making the first cut were relatively good. But it was phenomenal luck that allowed her to beat out nine other contestants to win the grand prize four times in a row.
"When she won her second truck she was number ten," explained Tina Rogo, the master of ceremonies for the grand prize drawings. "She couldn't even choose. She was left with whatever was left over and she still won it."
Now comes the second unbelievable part of the story, and it may help the gamblers who lost to Salina feel better about the whole thing.
Salina works quietly with Sacramento's homeless community and said she has given away virtually everything she's ever won at Thunder Valley, including the trucks and cars.
One night she used her winnings to fill the trunk of her Hyundai with hamburgers that she then distributed at a homeless shelter. Salina said she had never spoken to a reporter before because she worried the publicity would get in the way of her work.
She agreed to speak to News10 on the condition that her identity is not revealed. She was wearing an outfit she bought at a thrift store during the meeting and was still trying to decide what to do with a $15,000 jackpot she won the night before.
Some Thunder Valley employees are aware of Salina's work, including the "Trucks and Bucks" and "Convertibles and Cash" master of ceremonies.
"I know about Karma," Tina Rogo said. "And I truly believe that when you put good things out, good things return."