It’s a case of cracking the lotto code according to Retiree Gerry Selbee, from Michigan. Gerry noticed a flaw in the state's new lottery game back in 2003 prompting his family to buy hundreds of thousands of tickets a week. To find out just how much they won on the lottery, carry on reading…
Gerry, a humble maths genius, realised in about 4 minutes that there was a slight flaw in the state’s new lottery game. He immediately took advantage of this and he and his wife ended up becoming lotto millionaires in quite an unusual way over the years.
The retired Michigan shop owner, who has a bachelor’s degree and a MBA in mathematics, noticed that the new Winfall’s “roll-down” gave favourable odds to lottery players. This flaw ended up prompting him to bulk buy thousands of tickets at a time.
Gerry aged 64 at the time, saw that if no player guessed the six numbers required for the jackpot, the windfall would roll-over to the next week. In this particular lotto game though, if the roll-over exceeded more than $5 million, the jackpot would roll down and be incorporated into all the lower winning tiers, including those who correctly chose two, three, four or five numbers.
The fact that Gerry had such a gift of maths, he realised that as long as no one guessed the six numbers on roll-down weeks, then a $1 ticket was statistically worth more than $1.
So he targeted 'Winfall' games which had a 'roll-down' gimmick, and played not only hoping to win the jackpot, but if it rolled he knew that he would win substantially more on the lower tiers.
He tried it and won over $20,000 after only three attempts at the system. Seeing that it worked Gerry and his family began buying hundreds of thousands of tickets, and in six years of strategically playing the Winfall games - only betting on roll-down weeks - Gerry's group won around $8million (£5.8million)
Speaking to the media, Gerry said, “I just multiplied it out and then I said, ‘Hell, you got a positive return here.’”
"Anyone who put these two facts together would see an obvious way to make money: sit on the side-lines while other players build the jackpot up close to $2 million, and then jump in," wrote Sullivan.
His first attempt he did in fact lose $50, but he carried on and it did pay off in the end, winning $6,300 from $3,600 worth of tickets and $15,700 from $8,000 for the next two attempts.
Realising that they were on to something rather lucrative in the long run, they formed a group comprising of their children and close friends in order to afford to buy lottery tickets in bulk. The group called themselves GS Investment Strategies LLC in the small town of Evart, Michigan.
Every time there was a roll-down week, the group brought hundreds of thousands of tickets and earned between $7.5million and $8million (£5.8million).
The Boston Globe published a story about him and other high-volume lottery players in the game. This caused the state to alter buying rules and investigate whether lottery officials helped anyone game the system.
Inspector General Sullivan did not recommend any action against lottery officials, but he reported Friday they knew Selbee and other gambling groups were winning big in Cash WinFall and did nothing to stop them. The reason? The revenue created from a portion of all ticket sales, including those leading up to the roll-down drawings, was good for the state.
"Cash WinFall was a financial success for the lottery," Sullivan wrote. "It generated about $300 million in ticket sales, with nearly $120 million of that going to lottery operations and the pool of funds distributed to cities and towns. The high-volume bettors were a financial boon to the lottery, collectively buying roughly $2 million in tickets for a typical roll-down drawing -- 40 percent of which the lottery would keep to redistribute to cities and towns."
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