Retired Couple Make $26 Million After Breaking Lottery Code

High school sweethearts Jerry and Marge Selbee once lived a quiet life in Evart, Michigan, where they raised six children and ran a local convenience store.

The couple, who have since retired, then started using their spare time to crack lottery codes leading to multiple, legitimate wins which has now made them $26 million (£19.7m) in total.

Now they are set to have their incredible story told in a Hollywood film but the humble mathematicians say that their success was down to 'simple arithmetic' to beat the game's odds.

The couple retired with no plan other than to put their feet up and 'enjoy life' but in 2003 Jerry spotted a brand new lottery game called 'Winfall'.

According to CBS, Jerry has always possessed what he calls a 'head for math'. With a bachelor's degree in the subject, it only took a few minutes before he realised that this was a unique game.

Jerry and Marge retired to put their feet up but became millionaires in the process. Credit: CBS
Jerry and Marge retired to put their feet up but became millionaires in the process. Credit: CBS

So within three minutes, Jerry had figured out a 'special feature' which was called a 'Rolldown'. Unlike the Mega Millions where the jackpot builds and builds.

In Winfall, if the jackpot reached $5 million (£3.8m), and no one matched all six numbers, the money would 'roll down' to the lower-tier prize winners.

Jerry explained to CBS in more detail: "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 18.

"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 return."

Jerry kept all the losing lottery tickets, which totaled nearly $18 million dollars and filled 65 plastic buckets. Credit: CBS
Jerry kept all the losing lottery tickets, which totaled nearly $18 million dollars and filled 65 plastic buckets. Credit: CBS

The first time he trialled the plan he went all in buying $3,600 worth of Winfall tickets which probably seems like a heavy investment to lose but this was a confident bloke - a bloke who won $6,300.

The next time he bought $8,000 worth of tickets and nearly doubled the investment. Bingo.

The couple did what anyone would with a hefty amount of savings and they began playing with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The couple went on to set up a betting group. Credit: CBS
The couple went on to set up a betting group. Credit: CBS

According to The Sun, the pair, along with their kids and close friends, started up a betting group GS Investment Strategies LLC in the small town of Evart. They would meet in the hangout spot, Sugar Rae's Cafe.

There they purchased hundreds of thousands of tickets which made them between $7.5m and $8m (£5.8m).

Probably not that surprisingly, the Winfall game closed down in Michigan so they started playing in Massachusetts where the game was still being offered.

Jerry added: "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."

Shareholders of the Selbees' company. Credit: CBS
Shareholders of the Selbees' company. Credit: CBS

The couple saved all of the losing tickets and Marge said: "We had the upstairs of the barn. I stored them in one end and in the other end.

"And then I thought, 'Oh no, this floor is gonna fall through'. So then we stored them down in the pole barn. And we had probably 60, 65 tubs of tickets."

One of their friends and investors, Dave Huff, said: "It helped me put three kids through school and one through law school. So it was quite beneficial to me."

In 2011, the Boston Globe got a tip that the Winfall game was being scammed. The game was shut down and an investigation began which found that the Selbees hadn't committed any crimes whatsoever but had simply discovered a loophole.

Featured Image Credit: CBS

Rebecca Shepherd

Rebecca Shepherd is a Journalist at LADbible. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class BA in Journalism. Becky previously worked as Chief Reporter at Cavendish Press, supplying news and feature stories to national newspapers and women's magazines.

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