Streaming Spotlight by Cindy Summers
Jerry & Marge Go Large – Paramount +
Jerry Selbee (Bryan Cranston) had worked at the same cereal factory for 42 years until changes forced him into retirement, which was not a lifestyle he was comfortable with as he was a math genius and big picture problem solver. He felt his talents would go to waste until the day he stopped in his local quick stop for his regular cup of coffee and decided to check out the odds of his local lottery. Scribbling the math on a napkin, Jerry realized that to his surprise the odds were in favor of the players when the Windfall was triggered, where if no one won and the jackpot went above $2 million that it would drop down to increase the lesser winning number tickets.
Jerry tested his theory with $8,000, all the savings he and his wife Marge (Annette Bening) had, and didn’t tell her his plan but won $15,000 which he hid in a cereal box in the pantry. Jerry finally told Marge, who surprisingly was excited and supportive of his new idea. The Michigan lottery canceled their Windfall game, but Massachusetts still had Windfall and was only 10 hours away so they booked a motel in a tiny town where the spent the day printing tickets at the local market and the night separating the winning tickets that totaled over $21,000.
Marge helped Jerry realize that if he shared what he knew he could help the town and the people, especially due to the fact that the more money they bet the more they win with Windfall. Jerry decided to start a legit corporation where his friends could buy in for $500 a share and earn an equal percentage of the profits. Jerry and Marge’s winnings and the group investment totaled just over $40,000 and ended up winning $82,000.
Shortly after their first big win a Harvard student named Tyler was doing his thesis on the odds of winning POWERBALL vs MEGAMillions, and in checking smaller games for comparison discovered the same loophole Jerry discovered with Windfall. Tyler organized a student group to buy tickets but felt their winnings were too low, and they determined after hacking into the lottery there was another group. Tyler tried a couple of times to get Jerry’s group out of the game, but was never successful as while Tyler was in it to get rich, Jerry was in it to help his community.
A reporter named Maya from the Boston Globe was doing a story on the lottery, and after getting a long awaited report from the lottery office found Jerry and Tyler’s names repeatedly in the payouts. She decided visit Jerry to see what was happening, but Jerry had nothing to hide as he wasn’t cheating was up to printing tickets for eleven days to cover their investors buyins. Maya’s interview with Tyler showed their differing reasons for playing, and she felt compassion for Jerry.
Maya decided to print the article featuring Tyler and the Harvard group, basically leaving Jerry out of it, and the lottery immediately removed their machines and canceled the game so Jerry had to tell the group it was all over. Unbeknownst to Jerry and Marge the group got together and played the last Windfall, going to stores all across the state and even organizing a bus for the townspeople to buy the thousands of tickets. They brought the tickets back on a flatbed for Jerry and Marge to count, understanding how much the whole experience meant to them.
Jerry’s winnings totaled $27 million, and Jerry and Marge took their winnings and started a construction loan company for Evart, and like many of their friends and neighbors put their children and grandchildren through school. Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening are perfectly cast in their roles and to learn more about this incredible true story, here’s a link to the 60 Minutes interview from 2019 with the real Jerry and Marge Selbee: https://youtu.be/TTYnHr_-wcY
Runtime: 1h 30m