High school sweethearts Jerry and Marge Selbee once lived a quiet life in Evart, Michigan, where they raised six children and operated a local convenience store.
The couple, who have since retired, then began using their free time to crack lottery codes leading to multiple legitimate wins which have now grossed them $ 26million (£ 19.7million) in total .
Now they’re about to tell their incredible story in a Hollywood movie, but the humble mathematicians say their success was due to “simple arithmetic” to beat the odds of the game.
The couple retired with no plan other than to get up and ‘enjoy life’, but in 2003 Jerry spotted a brand new lottery game called ‘Winfall’.
According to CBSJerry has always owned what he calls a “math head”. With a bachelor’s degree in the subject, it only took a few minutes for him to realize that this was a unique game.
So, within three minutes, Jerry had discovered a “special feature” called a “rolldown”. Unlike Mega Millions where the jackpot is built and built.
In Winfall, if the jackpot reached $ 5million (£ 3.8million) and no one matched all six numbers, the money would “roll” to the lower tier winners.
Jerry explained to CBS in more detail: “I said if I played $ 1,100 mathematically I would have a 4-number winner, that’s $ 1,000. I divided 1,100 by six instead of 57 because j did a nasty mental shot and shot 18.
“So I knew I would have 18 or 19 3-number winners and it’s $ 50 each. At 18, I had $ 1,000 for a 4-number winner, and I had 18 winners at 3 numbers worth $ 50 each, so it’s $ 900. So I invested $ 1,100 and I have a return of $ 1,900. “
The first time he tested the plan, he went out of his way to buy $ 3,600 worth of Winfall tickets, which probably seems like a hefty investment to lose, but he was a confident dude – a dude who won $ 6,300. $.
The next time around, he bought $ 8,000 worth of tickets and nearly doubled the investment. Bingo.
The couple did what anyone would have done with big savings and they started gambling with hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to Le Soleil, the couple, along with their children and close friends, started a betting group GS Investment Strategies LLC in the small town of Evart. They met at the meeting place, the Sugar Rae’s Cafe.
There they bought hundreds of thousands of tickets, costing them between $ 7.5 million and $ 8million (£ 5.8million).
Probably not that surprisingly, the Winfall game was shut down in Michigan so they started playing in Massachusetts where the game was still offered.
Jerry added, “It’s actually just basic arithmetic. It gave you the satisfaction of achieving something that was worth it not only for us personally, but for our friends and family.”
The couple kept all of the lost tickets and Marge said, “We had the barn floor. I put them one end and the other.
“And then I thought, ‘Oh no, this soil is going to fall.’ So we put them in the pole barn. And we probably had 60, 65 jars of bills.”
One of their friends and investors, Dave Huff, said: “It has helped me get three kids into school and one into law school. So it has been very beneficial to me.”
In 2011, the Boston Globe was informed that the game Winfall was the victim of a scam. The game was stopped and an investigation was launched which revealed that the Selbees had not committed any crime, but had simply discovered a loophole.