A retired couple explain exactly how they used math skills and a lottery loophole to win $26 million in 9 years
A small-town Michigan couple sat down with “60 Minutes” in January to tell the unlikely story of how they used “basic arithmetic” to find a loophole in the lottery that helped them win $26 million over nearly a decade.
High-school sweethearts Jerry and Marge Selbee, 80 and 81 respectively, ran a convenience store in Evart until they sold it and retired in their 60s.
In 2003, Jerry made a run to their old store and saw a brochure for a new lottery game called Winfall. Jerry, who majored in math in college, told “60 Minutes” he realized within just minutes that he could almost guarantee making a profit.
He explained this was because the winnings rolled down every time the jackpot reached a cap of $5 million. Unlike lottery games like Mega Millions, where the jackpot keeps growing until someone matches every single number, with Winfall, if the jackpot reached $5 million and no one drew a ticket with all six winning numbers, people with tickets that had five, four, and three winning numbers could cash in.
While that may be hard for some to follow, Jerry said that it’s “just basic arithmetic” and that he thought others had figured it out too.
The first time he heard a roll-down was happening, he bought $3,600 in Winfall tickets and won $6,300. Then he bet $8,000 and won almost twice as much, he told “60 Minutes.”
The Selbees helped friends and family win too
Soon the Selbees were betting hundreds of thousands of dollars on Winfall.
They said they got so good at the game that they set up a corporation, G.S. Investment Strategies, and invited their friends and family to buy into the business for $500 apiece.
The group had grown to 25 members in 2005 when the state ended Winfall, citing lack of sales.
But soon after, the Selbees learned of a similar game in Massachusetts called “Cash WinFall.”
For the next six years, the Selbees said they would make the 14-hour drive to Massachusetts anytime a roll-down was happening, buying hundreds of thousands of tickets at two convenience stores. They would then rent a motel room and spend 10 hours a day sorting the tickets.
But in 2011, their game came to an end when The Boston Globe received a tip that certain Massachusetts locations were selling large numbers of Cash WinFall tickets. The Globe’s investigations team discovered that two groups were cashing in big on the game — the Selbees and a group of math majors at MIT.
The state launched an investigation but realized that what the two groups were doing was completely legal and that the state was actually making a lot of money through it. By then, the state lottery had decided to end the game anyway.
The Selbees said that over the nine years they played Winfall, their group won a total of $26 million and they made about $8 million in profit before taxes. They used it to renovate their house and help pay for the schooling of their six children, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.
They also optioned the rights for their life story to be turned into a movie.Jerry and Marge Selbee won millions in the 2000s when they found a loophole in a Michigan state lottery game that boosted their chances of winning.
60 minutes lottery
A retired couple and their close group of friends in western Michigan . . .
Have earned $26 million by playing state lotteries – winning dozens of times.
JUST TO BE 100% CLEAR – this is 100% legal.
How’s it possible?
Well, it’s because they used simple math to dramatically stack the odds of winning in their favor.
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Jerry and Marge Selbee lived a simple life.
For 17 years, they owned and operated the general store in Evart, Michigan (population 1,865).
After selling the store and retiring, Jerry stopped by the store and noticed a lottery ticket called “Windfall.”
Jerry bought a ticket and started reading the rules of the game.
Within three minutes he discovered a simple loophole that stacked the odds in his favor. It was a feature called a “Rolldown.”
If the jackpot hit $5 million . . . he could load up on lottery tickets and dramatically multiply the chances of winning.
So, he invested $3,600 in Michigan Windfall tickets.
In the next “Rolldown” – he invested $8,000. And nearly doubled it. That’s when he finally told his wife what he was doing!
Soon, Jerry and Marge were investing hundreds of thousands in tickets. And the winnings kept growing.
“Here’s one that was pretty successful. We played $515,000 and got back $853,000,” says Jerry.
It may sound complicated. But “It’s actually just basic arithmetic,” Jerry told 60 Minutes.
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This urgent briefing reveals exactly how this works . . . details on this week’s trades . . . and shows you how to get started.60 Minutes reports that a retired Michigan couple figured out a loophole in state lotteries that helped them win $26 million. ]]>