It’s been a little slow in the Jai-alai world and this story doesn’t really have anything to do with our sport, but it is gambling related, and I wanted to get this out there.
By now, as you know, the Mega Million lottery has passed the $ ONE BILLION mark going to the winner of the jackpot. This is the third time in the twenty-year history that the jackpot has surpassed that magical number. Not one ticket matched all six numbers drawn on Tuesday night, so the new drawing will take place Friday night, July 29th. The 11pm drawing will be the thirtieth in the jackpot run which began on April 19th.
The record payout of $1.537 billion was claimed in South Carolina on October 23, 2018 and remains as the world’s largest lottery prize ever won on a single ticket. Interest in the lottery has drawn unprecedented traffic with the website going down for over two hours Tuesday night.
The odds of winning this on a single ticket are 1/302.5 million, but the real winner is Uncle Sam. Most winners elect to claim all the money in one immediate sum versus an getting an annuity of 30 payments over 29 years. That payment would be $602.5 million, but the federal tax will take out another $144.6 million. Doesn’t sound fair, does it? No one lets us deduct money every year we lose money gambling on the lottery, slots, jai-alai or sports betting.
But this lottery news reminded me of a movie I watched a couple weeks ago. I don’t watch movies too often, but when I do, it’s to watch a movie based on a true story. I’ve watched just three movies in a theatre in the past 20-25 years and those were Moneyball, Richard Jewell and Black Mass. All obviously true stories.
The movie I watched is called Jerry & Marge Go Large. I thought the name of it was kind of stupid, until I watched it and realized what an amazing couple they were – and no wonder why they named the movie after them. It was released on the new streaming channel Paramount+ on June 17, 2022. It is based on a true story of a guy that figured out how to legally win a state lottery thru a mathematical loophole. Jerry Selbee had just retired from 42 years as a production line manager for Kellogg’s in a small Midwest town. He was bored with nothing to do until he studied the payoffs in the lottery game called “Winfall”. While reading the fine print, he noticed that the game had a unique feature that was called a “rolldown”. Unlike other high-paying games such as the Mega Millions mentioned earlier, the jackpot keeps building until someone hits all six numbers and wins the big prize. But in this game of Winfall, if the jackpot reaches the top prize of $5 million, and no one matched all six numbers, all the money is rolled down to the winners who matched fewer numbers. Mr. Selbee realized that he was guaranteed to win money if he bought enough tickets.
We don’t want to spell the beans on how this turned out, but the consortium he put together quickly netted them $26 million and an appearance on 60 Minutes in 2019. The distribution of the funds makes this a heartwarming story and is a must watch movie if you like this kind of stuff about mathematical geniuses and gambling. Maybe Jerry could figure out a way to win the billion dollars Friday night?
You can download Paramount+ for free for seven days as a trial without turning over any credit cards or information. The movie is only 96 minutes long and is more like a comedy-draw film that will keep your laughing and cheering especially when Jerry has a run-in with some smartass college kids. * * * *