GW Magazine nameplate
Alumni Newsmakers

Alumnus Hits the Jackpot

It's rare that a call at 2 a.m. is good news, but it's how Gilbert Cisneros, BA '94, learned last May that he had beaten the odds—of about 175 million to 1.

That night his wife, Jacki, was working an overnight shift at a local television station when a news wire came through that the winning Mega Millions ticket was sold at the restaurant where Gil had bought dinner along with 10 lottery tickets. Shaking, she called him and insisted he check their tickets.

Sure enough, the numbers on one matched. The couple had won $266 million.

Now they're giving back with a $1 million gift to GW's Power & Promise Fund, which supports student financial aid, and $100,000 to the university's Yellow Ribbon Program.

"It was something that I always dreamt of being able to do if I got the chance," says Mr. Cisneros.

Thanks to the couple, two incoming freshmen in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences will receive $25,000 apiece in financial aid. The scholarships will fund study in political science, Mr. Cisneros' major at GW, with preference given to Hispanic students from California. The scholarships can be renewed each year, enabling students to obtain $100,000 in financial aid over the course of their four undergraduate years.

The couple's gift to the Yellow Ribbon Program was inspired by Mr. Cisneros' military service. He received a scholarship to GW through Navy ROTC and served in the Navy for 10 years. "It's cool that GW is supporting veterans," he says.

In addition to the Power & Promise and Yellow Ribbon gifts, the couple has made a donation to the Newman Catholic Student Center at GW, and Mr. Cisneros has joined the Dean's Advisory Council on Arts and Sciences.

"I had a great time at GW and got a good education," says Mr. Cisneros. "It was definitely an experience I wouldn't change for anything."