Iraq War Veteran Wins Big and Rediscovers Passion for Life

A 47-year-old homeless man from Dallas, TX, praises his fate after 20 years of a steady downward spiral. Now he plans to catch up on the joys of living he has long deserved.

Nick Macaulay and Josh (cafe-owner)

Nick Macaulay, like hundreds of other veterans across the country, never fully recovered from the horrors of war. After Operation Iraqi Freedom, Nick returned to his hometown only to find himself incapable of following everyday routines like society expected him to. “I felt like a burden to those surrounding me,” he remembers. “Can’t say I didn’t try, but the veteran rehab I joined didn’t change much.”

With each following year, things were getting darker for Mr. Macaulay. ‘“Can’t surprise anyone with the story, really,” he chuckles, ‘“Divorce, drinking, drugs – the 3 D’s that should’ve been my demise, in the end. I mostly lived off of horse betting, which I got quite good at – don’t believe in luck or anything, just frantic calculations of a brain flaming on heroin,” Nick reminisces.

Whatever joy he was getting from such a lifestyle came to an end with the FBI closing his betting parlor. “Had no idea what to do next until another hobo suggested going online. It’s the 21st century, after all,” Nick grins. “Spent half of my stash to tidy up for an Internet cafe, only to find out online horse betting is prohibited in Texas.”

The unexpected help that ultimately overturned Nick’s life came from the cafe’s owner. “I owe this guy everything,” Nick says, “I sort of started causing a scene because I couldn’t have my horsies even on the screen, but Josh was really nice about it, and he suggested that I tried other ways of pleasing my gamblers gland, so to say – why the hell not, I thought. No other parlor would have me anyway.”

Josh, a long-time depositor of Red Dog Casino, introduced Nick to the world of online slots. “I remember him trying to explain it to me, like, “This one’s good stuff, won hundreds of bucks with it, no strings attached and comes with a Welcome Bonus of up to $3000. Sheesh, I thought, three grand doesn’t sound half bad,” Nick smiles.

Lucky veteran loaded up his last $50 on Josh’s account, having little faith in potential returns. “Couldn’t rely on my horse hunch, you see,” Nick explains, “But what’s done’s done, so I opened the slots page. My eye kinda got caught by Jackpot Cleopatra’s Gold. I saw the movie [1963’s Cleopatra] as a kid, fell in Love with Ms. Taylor,” he laughs.

Nick didn’t win his whopping jackpot of $655,321 right away. “I started getting the hang of it when I realized I almost burned through my fifty bucks, and I got nervous since I didn’t want to spend any of Josh’s money,” Nick says. However, his new acquaintance was cool about it and allowed Macaulay to play some more of his deposit. Then, the moment of truth came: “Okay, these are my last ten spins, I thought. I decided to click through them frantically, so I didn’t even notice at first what happened on one of those. The next thing I remember is Josh completely losing it, shaking me on the shoulder,” he continues. “You are a rich man!” he screamed, over and over.”

Nick rightfully decided to split the winnings in half with his newly made friend. “That’s the least I can do for him,” he says. “Nevermind the fact that Josh is now seeing to it that I don’t get on the slippery slope again. When you hit rock bottom, the only way is up, I guess.” Nevertheless, the formerly homeless man is now excited at the opportunity fate gave him to reintegrate into society and experience life to its fullest.