Donaldsonville educator wins over $315,000 jackpot at casino

Michael Tortorich

A “dream hit” gave an Ascension Parish educator a $315,756 payout during a spring break trip to a casino in the Memphis area.

Natalie and Jody Dugas of Donaldsonville pose with a check for $315,756, which was won while playing Pai Gow poker at the Horseshoe Casino and Hotel Tunica near Memphis.

Natalie Dugas, who works at Lowery Elementary School in Donaldsonville, said she and her husband, Jody Dugas, won the jackpot while playing Pai Gow Fortune Bonus.

The lucky location proved to be at the Horseshoe Casino and Hotel Tunica, which is located along the Mississippi River in northern Mississippi at the borders of Tennessee and Arkansas.

A bonus bet and an extra progressive bet is what paid the large sum, she explained. Dugas posted a photo of the hand, which was 4, joker, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, all in hearts.

“It’s a hand that we have never seen, and most dealers have never seen. It just doesn’t happen often,” Dugas said.

The pit boss and dealers were in shock, she added.

“I knew I had something good, but not that good! Needless to say, Jody screamed so loud. I had to shush him,” Dugas said.

The casino’s crew took about two hours to review surveillance video. She said the staff made the whole experience a smooth one.

Dugas is the daughter of Vincent and Rosemary Giardina, and sister of Lori Giardina Charlet and Will Giardina. All five have worked in public schools as educators.

Every Christmas for the last decade, the siblings have joined forces with family and friends for a Santa Claus photo fundraising event. The money raised and donations go toward toys for the less fortunate in the community. The Gonzales Police Department and the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office assists with the distribution.

Charlet, who serves as principal at Gonzales Middle School, said she was happy for her sister’s huge win.  

“Nat has always lived her life by serving and giving to others,” Charlet said. “No one deserves this huge blessing more than she does. I could not be happier for my sister.”

Her parents were both excited, agreeing that she was deserving of such a tremendous reward.

“She does so much for so many and never expects anything in return,” Vincent Giardina said. “Our message to her was, ‘The Lord gives back to those with a loving and giving heart.’”