BERLIN – Brandi Zirckel hadn’t even really wanted the Camaro she won last week at the Casino at Ocean Downs, but she was certainly willing to take it.
“We all joined just for fun, the boys really wanted the Camaro,” she said.
“The Boys” are the guys in her group of friends who’ve been casino regulars since the slots parlor opened. The group of 20-somethings go as often for a night out as for a way to kill some time. Zirckel said the trips have usually been good ones as she leaves even or up more often than not.
“I think I’ve only lost once,” she said.
She was tending bar at the Blue Ox when her name was drawn and wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Her Blackberry was buzzing like mad with Tweets, Facebook messages and texts that said things like “Congrats!” and “That’s so Awesome.”
Finally one of her friends called her to tell her she’d won but Zirckel was still pretty sure she was the butt of a late April Fool’s conspiracy concocted by her friends. Once she was convinced, she still faced a long night behind the bar and celebration afterwards.
“When I went to sign the paperwork and have my picture taken the next day I felt ridiculous because I could stop smiling,” she said. The satisfaction of winning had turned her usually easy, pleasant smile cartoonish and uncontrollable.
While she was filling out the forms, one of her friends hit for $250 making her feel as if she’d transformed into a walking good luck charm. That evening, upon returning to work, members of a golf club excursion were lighting it up at Keno.
So for now she hopes to ride her steak like a wave. The novelty check she was given to represent her $30,014 in winnings is now among her prized possessions. She’s been carrying it around all week and it’s starting to show a little wear. When she moves into her new apartment on May 1, she said, it will find a more permanent home.
Given that she picks up her car on April 11 and that the check ended in the odd-looking number 14, she’d designated “1” and “4” her new lucky numbers, and said she’s looking forward to playing them when she returns to her regular roulette table.
After graduating in 2005 the Stephen Decatur High School alumna elected to go to Hawaii to pursue professional surfing rather than to college. Five years later she returned to her native Ocean City to help her father, who is recovering from knee replacement surgery. Although her original intent was to make her return brief, her recent run of luck convinced her to stay on a little longer.
Plus, the waves have improved.
“I was so spoiled. I didn’t want to have to put on a wetsuit,” she said. “I was thinking about heading back but after this is said, ‘Alright, I’ll be OK for now. I can’t wait for summer.’”