Couple won $26 million on lottery after working out ‘loophole’ in just three minutes

For all these years we’ve just assumed that winning the lottery is simply luck of the draw, and it is, right?

Well, not exactly, as a retired couple once used math to crack the lottery code and win a whopping $26 million.

But before you get any bright ideas, it’s worth pointing out that you’ve got a better chance of getting struck by lightning than you do winning the lottery.


Statistics show that odds of winning the Powerball jackpot by matching all numbers with the white and red balls are one in 292 million.

Yep, pretty impossible, right?

However, Jerry and Marge Selbee from Evart, Michigan, found a ‘loophole’ in the system that would allow them to become mega-rich.

So, how did they do it?

Well, let it be known that they were only able to benefit from a specific game called the Cash Winfall – which has since been suspended after authorities realised people were exploiting it for easy cash.

So don’t go quitting your jobs just yet.

For the Selbees, however, they managed to cash in on the loophole, earning multiple and legitimate wins that made them $26 million richer in total.

Jerry and Marge Selbee figured out a loophole in the Cash Winfall game. Credit: CBS
Jerry and Marge Selbee figured out a loophole in the Cash Winfall game. Credit: CBS

It’s quite the star story given that they had initially retired in their early 60s with no plan other than to put their feet up and ‘enjoy life’, as they explained in an episode of CBS News’ 60 Minutes Overtime.

In Cash Winfall, if the jackpot reached $5 million and no one matched all six numbers, the money would ‘roll down’ to the lower-tier prize winners.

And since 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.

Though he explained his exact tactic in detail, you’re going to need some serious math literacy to understand what he’s saying – see what you think.

“If I played $1100, mathematically I’d have one four-number winner – that’s 1000 bucks.” he said.

“I divided 1100 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 three-number winners, and that’s 50 bucks each.


It didn't take long for Jerry to crack the code. Credit: 9News
It didn’t take long for Jerry to crack the code. Credit: 9News

“At 18, I got $1000 for a four-number winner, and I got 18 three-number winners worth $50 each, so that’s 900 bucks.

“So I got $1100 invested and I’ve got a $1900 return.”

Phew. Even if you didn’t understand all of that, it’s easy to see that a $800 return on a $1100 investment is pretty damn good.

The first time Jerry trialled the plan, he went all in buying $3600 worth of Winfall tickets – and his trick worked, earning the couple $6,300.

The next time, he bought $8,000 worth of tickets and nearly doubled the investment. This cycle continued, and before long they began playing with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

They even got their kids and close friends involved, only for the Winfall game to close down in Michigan.

But they just continued to cash in by playing it in Massachusetts where it was still being offered.

The couple would keep their tickets in buckets. Credit: CBS
The couple would keep their tickets in buckets. Credit: CBS

“It is actually just basic arithmetic,” added Jerry. “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.”

Eventually their plan was foiled after the Boston Globe got a tip that the lottery game was being scammed, and it was shut down by the Massachusetts Lottery.

But it was 2011 at this point, and the Selbees and their loved ones had already made their fortune.

Although authorities launched an investigation into the matter, they soon realised the couple hadn’t committed any crimes whatsoever – they had simply discovered a loophole.

Their story is so larger than life that it became the subject of a feature film named Jerry & Marge Go Large, which was released last year and stars Bryan Cranston.

If you’d like to see the unlikely plot unfold on the big screen, the movie is available to watch on Paramount Plus.

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