“We bought the whole bar a round of drinks,” said Nick Murray, who along with five of his friends won $45,000 playing Keno Plus on Friday night at Picasso’s Pizza and Pub at 2323 Warwick Avenue. “The place got pretty loud. Everyone was yelling and cheering for us.”
Murray, a Warwick resident and special education teacher at Winman Junior High School, was with three of his fellow special education teachers from Winman, Christina Degaetano, Greggory Rossi and Kendra Gorman, as well as Gorman’s husband Kevin and her sister, Elizabeth McLeod, when they cashed in.
They went to Picasso’s to grab a few drinks and pizza when they decided to play Keno. They purchased the bet slip for $1 and each of them selected a number.
But when they looked at the ticket and noticed the payout for seven numbers would increase their winnings, they decided to up the odds. They doubled their wager to include the Keno Plus option.
As the numbers appeared, the bet literally paid off. The 10 multiplier popped, which increased their prize to $45,000. From there, the celebration began.
“It was just insane,” said Degaetano. “The numbers came up on the screen and we were like, ‘Is this happening?’ We were jumping around the whole place. We were happy for each other, too. All of us can use the money.”
After taxes, each of them received $5,100. Degaetano said she plans on using her winnings to send her daughter to Tennessee, as she plays chess for Greenwood Elementary School. Students and parents have been trying to fundraise for the trip.
“If we can’t raise enough money for the whole team, at least I can say I’ll pay for my daughter,” said Degaetano.
Murray said Rossi is looking to do something similar and to use a portion of his earnings to take his son to LegoLand, an amusement park in Florida. As for Murray, he’ll be buying new tires for his truck and paying bills.
Murray said he has enjoyed pizza at “The Pic,” as its regulars call it, since his teens. He celebrated his 21st birthday there, as well. Further, he also works there as a bartender with his friend, Reena Gleason, who has been a bartender and waitress there for nearly six years. While she wasn’t there for his win, she is often working when others take home big money.
“It happens more often than you would think because a lot of regulars come here and play Keno,” Gleason said. “But I think it’s the highest that’s ever been won here.”
For Degaetano, she said she would have been happy winning $10. Nevertheless, she’s grateful for the victory.
“I’ve never won anything before,” said Degaetano.