A retired couple won $26 million by using simple arithmetic to beat the game’s odds. Jerry and Marge Selbee owned a convenience store in Evart, Michigan before they retired and got rich by winning multiple state lottery games over the next six years.
Their scheme began in 2003 when Jerry, who graduated college with a degree in mathematics, saw a brochure for a new lottery called Winfall – and realized right away how to beat it.
The game featured a ‘roll down’ effect, which meant that if no one won the $5 million jackpot, the money would be spread across those who matched, five, four, or three numbers.
Lottery officials announced when this happened, so Jerry would buy thousands of tickets – knowing that he would get a certain amount of matches, according to CBS.
Simply put, Jerry explained that if he bought $1,100 worth of tickets, he would have at least one four-number winner, which paid him $1,000.
Eventually, Jerry set up a corporation called GS Investment Strategies and invited friends and families to buy shares for $500 each. The Winfall game later closed down in Michigan for ‘lack of sales,’ so the couple began playing in Massachusetts where the game was still being offered.
GS Investment Strategies grew to 25 members and, for the next six years, they won massive amounts of money during the announced ‘rolldown weeks.
The Selbees said that they would sit in a hotel and sort through tickets for 10 hours a day, ten days in a row, playing more than $600,000 per attempt. They did this seven times a year.
‘It is actually just basic arithmetic. It gave you the satisfaction of being successful at something that was worthwhile to not only us personally but to our friends and our family,’ Jerry Selbee said
‘The only thing I found really remarkable is nobody else really seemed to grasp it.’ In 2011, the Boston Globe got a tip that someone may be scamming the Cash Winfall game and later found that the Selbees and a group of math majors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were monopolizing the winnings.
More than $17 million was bet by the MIT group, earning over $3.5 million in profits, before the Massachusetts state treasurer shut down the game and began an investigation – which found that the chances of winning were not affected by the high-volume betting, therefore the Selbees did not commit a crime.
Their corporation earned $26 million total, including $8 million in profit, by the time they were done. The Selbees said the used the money to renovate their home and pay for the education of their six children, 14 grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. The couple recently sold their incredible story to movie producers who plan to make a film about their lives.