So far we’ve featured one episode on winning
the lottery that showed us that suddenly becoming
a multi-millionaire can be an absolute curse.
The people we discussed had dreamed of riches,
but in the end it led to their ruin.
Still, we’d like to think that many of you
would go on to live a wonderful life after
collecting your massive check.
You’d sail into the sunset, pockets full
of gold, and never worry about money again.
That’s the dream, and that’s why so many
people play the lottery.
According to a Gallop Poll in 2016, about
half of adult Americans play the state lottery
and many of those were classed as low-income
families or individuals.
In fact, it’s said in all, Americans spend
about $80 billion on state lotteries in a
year, which works out to about $250 a person.
This just shows you how desperate people are
to get their hands on a windfall.
But, you all know the chance of winning the
big prize is low, with the website The Balance
saying in 2018 that the odds of you winning
either the Mega Millions or the Powerball
are about 175 million to one.
Yep, you’ve all heard this before but we’ll
say it again.
You have more chance of being struck by lightning.
CBS news reported that your chance of being
hit by a bolt in any given year is about 1
Your odds of being struck twice in an entire
lifetime if you live until the average age
are about one in nine million.
This shows how hard it is to get your hands
on the big prize.
If you’re in the USA you have more chance
of being bitten by a shark, being seriously
injured while on an amusement park ride, dying
in an act or terrorism, and much more chance
of being mauled by a tetchy bear.
We think you get the picture.
But what if you had a hack, a system, a way
of lessening those odds?
Is that possible?
And if it was possible, wouldn’t all great
mathematical minds and members of the Mafiosi
have achieved a win?
Welcome to the story of Jerry and Marge Selbee.
This couple were in love in school and they
are still in love now as they enjoy their
They have lived in a very small town in Michigan
called Evart for many years.
They had six kids and ran a convenience store
and were well-known to the other 1900 inhabitants
of this town.
The American news media told us that Marge
worked magic making sandwiches at the store
while Jerry took care of vice in liquor and
She was 62 and he was 63 when they decided
they’d had enough and sold the store.
What was their plan?
They said it was just to put their feet up,
relax, catch up on some TV and take it easy.
They hadn’t even taken a day off, or at
least closed the store, in 17 years.
This was a deserved retirement, and they were
certainly not planning on becoming multi-millionaires.
one fine day Jerry noticed a new lottery game
He later told the media that he’d always
been good at math and had in his younger years
gotten a degree in the subject.
When he looked at this game he immediately
had one of those great Eureka moments.
“I read it and by the time I was out here
I knew what the potential migThen ht be,”
he told CBS news in 2019.
The year he made his fateful discovery was
So, his discovery didn’t come by months
He said he realized after a mere three minutes
or so that there was a loophole in this lottery,
or what he called a “special feature.”
He explained that with a lottery such as the
Mega Millions the prize money goes up when
no one wins the jackpot.
The difference with Winfall was that when
no one took the big prize the jackpot rolled
down, so the people with fewer correct numbers
The prize wasn’t as big of course, but at
least the people who had gotten fewer numbers
correct all got a decent payout.
To you and me, to most people, we might not
see anything special about this.
We certainly might not be thinking that millions
of dollars are coming our way.
But old Jerry was a smart cookie and he immediately
spotted a way to crack this lottery.
We are going to let Jerry explain his system
to you because he can do that clearer than
This is what he told the American news media:
“Here’s what I said.
I said if I played $1,100 mathematically I’d
have one 4-number winner, that’s 1,000 bucks.
I divided 1,100 by six instead of 57 because
I did a mental quick dirty and I come up with
So I knew I’d have either 18 or 19 3-number
winners and that’s 50 bucks each.
At 18 I got $1,000 for a 4-number winner,
and I got 18 3-number winners worth $50 each,
so that’s 900 bucks.
So I got $1,100 invested and I’ve got a $1,900
That’s about an 80 percent profit on his
Now, while his system might sound a little
complicated to some, Jerry said it is actually
very basic arithmetic.
For that reason, his first thought was, hmm,
if I have worked that out then a whole load
of other math-savvy people must have also
figured it out.
But you know what?
When the first roll-down was announced he
went out and bought $3,600 worth of tickets.
He got back $6,300.
He then put on another $8,000 and got pretty
much double that amount back.
Jerry must have been laughing all the way
to the bank at this point.
He then told his wife he had been putting
thousands of their retirement savings into
the lottery, adding that there was no risk
because he had cracked it.
She wasn’t even surprised, saying when he
told her it all made perfect sense.
The only thing that really confused Jerry
was why no one else had worked it out.
He just kept doing what he had been doing,
but investing more and more money, so much
so that he started a company called G.S. Investment
In an interview with CBS he showed the journalist
details of every win, pointing out one big
one where he had bet $515,000 and turned it
He then sold shares in the company to friends
and family and started giving them back massive
returns on their investments.
Most of these people, besides family, were
the other small town inhabitants they had
know for many years.
It was as if money was raining on the town.
Jerry explained to them the math behind it
and they also told the media it made perfect
sense to them.
They all did very well out of it, with one
of Jerry’s friends saying, “It helped
me put three kids through school and one through
So it was quite beneficial to me.”
By 2005, Jerry had 25 members of his lottery
club, and they were all winners.
Some of those people were police, a factory
manager and a bank manager.
But then Michigan suddenly closed down the
game saying lack of sales was to blame.
It was game over, and we all know that good
things don’t always last…
But then the sun shone again over this little
One of Jerry’s group members told him that
there was a game in Massachusetts that had
quite similar odds.
Jerry told the media, “So I got on the computer.
I looked at the game and once I researched
it, I got back with him and I said, we can
play that game.”
Indeed he could, and he said it only took
him about 10 minutes to find the solution
to guaranteed winning in that game.
The group started throwing cash at Jerry again.
For six whole years Jerry and Marge would
drive 900 miles (1,448km) to Massachusetts
when they saw that there was a rolldown.
They’d walk and drive about all day buying
hundreds of thousands of tickets.
Just doing that took effort and the couple
said it became more like a job, sometimes
working 10 hours a day.
They saved millions of losing tickets just
in case anyone investigated them.
What they were doing was not illegal; they
were just playing the game, but they needed
proof of that.
The couple also said they didn’t mind at
all the long drives and the hard work, only
because it always led to their friends and
It was all worth it.
And then in 2011 The Boston Globe seemed to
be on to them.
It had received a tip off that someone or
some people had been buying certain lottery
tickets in an incredibly high volume all at
certain places in Massachusetts.
The funny thing was, the Globe not only figured
out that if you bought enough of these tickets
for that particular game you’d be guaranteed
a win, but the investigator discovered there
were two groups of people doing this.
The reporter saw that one of those syndicates
was the Selbee couple, but their competition
was none other than the Massachusetts Institute
Well, some students there.
Those students, that didn’t have too much
disposable income as is often the case with
those at university, got a few of their friends
to start investing in the scheme.
They actually got enough cash together to
bet millions and over seven years and at the
end they had amassed around $3.5 million in
When the story broke, the game was closed
down immediately and an investigation happened,
led by the then-state inspector general.
He told the press his team looked hard for
some kind of corruption, some form of scam,
anything illegal, but nothing illegal had
“I was dumbfoundely amazed that these math-nerd
geniuses had found a way legally to win a
state lottery and make millions from it,”
he later said.
Over nine years that company the Selbee’s
had founded made around $26 million gross.
Most of the cash they made went on their kids,
grandkids and future great grandkids, but
they also spent some of the cash renovating
The media reported that their little gang
of winners still hang out together, but these
days it’s mostly when they bet a few dollars
playing poker together.
On those nights Marge is said to cook-up one
of her famous chicken pot pies.
To this day Jerry says the only thing that
really amazes him is that no one else figured
it out, or at least until the MIT students
They couple has warmed the hearts of the American
public as well as impressing the press.
They’ve been called The Lottery Hackers,
been interviewed on 60 Minutes and it seems
that their story might become a Hollywood
What do you think about this couple?
Do you think the method was as basic as Jerry
If it was, how come no one else figured it
Tell us your answers in the comments.
Also, be sure to check out our other video
Thief Who Hijacked A Plane and Stole A Million
Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t
forget to like, share and subscribe.
See you next time.