Millionaire electrician wires his own spotlight

Pete Dolloway was supposed to get up at 4:30 Monday morning. He had a job to go on. He's an electrician by trade, something that has paid the bills for the working class guy from Sheldon, Birmingham.

It had been a tough year. Thieves had broken into his van twice. And now he faced the idea of getting up before the sun and trudging into another day of turning on the lights for other people. It might have been enough to remind him of one of his favorite comedian's axioms.

"It's all about money, not freedom, y'all, okay? Nothing to do with (expletive) freedom. If you think you're free, try going somewhere without (expletive) money, okay?"

Bill Hicks, the late American comic, once said that on stage. It's the type of thing that would resonate with a man who was shackled by fuses, wiring, and the ever-present necessity of setting his damned alarm clock for 4:30am.

At 36 years old, married with kids, Dolloway was sitting and watching the London-based NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars. He decided to play a $5 PokerStars Spin & Go. That was when something weird happened.

"I freaked out," he admitted later. "I got the wife to look at it to see if it was real."

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Pete and Katrina Dolloway


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It was, by all means, real. Dolloway had just lucked his way into a $1.2 million Spin & Go Jackpot. Just a few days earlier, PokerStars had announced it was going to celebrate the anniversary of Spin & Gos by opening up the jackpot floodgates.

Let's just say it: Dolloway was never a big poker player, and he wasn't one of the lucky ones. He's never played for much money, and he's never cashed for more than £1,000. Poker was a low-stakes hobby he used to distract himself from the days he spent hoping somebody wasn't breaking into his van again.

With his wife and kids standing beside him, Dolloway realized he could bust first and still fill his boots with money. A min-cash was 20,000 times the amount he'd invested.

"It helped knowing that there was $100,000 for second and third," he said.

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For most people, it's simply impossible to imagine that feeling. At one moment you're sitting there wondering what bad decision the Buffalo Bills' Rex Ryan will make next, and the next moment it's up to your electrician fingers somehow manage a campaign for a $1 million payday.

"By and large, I was in a state of pure panic," Dolloway said.

How else could a man feel? A million dollars was falling out of the ethereal sky, and it was Dolloway's job to hold his arms just the right way.

"I kept saying to myself 'This is your chance, your time. Take it seriously and play properly,'" he said.

For a man about to play the most serious game of his life, he and his avatar were ready with a proper sense of fatalism. He'd been playing poker for nine years, and when he signed up for PokerStars, he chose the name "prophethicks," an homage to the comedy's Bill Hicks, a stand-up philosopher who once said, "Non-smokers die everyday. Sleep tight!"

"Hicks, the man is a god to me," Dolloway said. "Along with Kurt Cobain and Homer Simpson, I took his teachings way too seriously over the years."

By now, you know what happened. The million dollars landed squarely in Dolloway's lap. When it was over, he thought he won with ace-seven vs king-jack. He was close but wrong, and nevertheless the biggest winner of the day.

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Today, Dolloway is still trying to wrap his head around the outcome. Sunday morning, he had nowhere close to a million bucks. Today, he has all of it and then some.

And that 4:30am wake-up call?

"I rang up and told them I was not available," Dolloway admitted.

And, that PokerStars players, is how one Spin & Go millionaire has spent the last 48 hours. Today, as he signed his last email, Pete Dolloway is heretofore known as "retired electrician, aspiring comedian."


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Brad Willis
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