Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival this year is the ripped from the headlines dramedy film Jerry & Marge Go Large. David Frankel, who most notably directed The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me, is behind the upcoming feature. Brad Copeland, who wrote Blue Sky Studios’ Oscar-nominated animated tale Ferdinand and the 2021 family caper Flora & Ulysses, wrote the screenplay. The film is based on The Huffington Post article of the same name, written by Jason Fagone, which covered the real-life story of lottery hackers Gerald (Jerry) and Marjorie (Marge) Selbee.
Jerry & Marge Go Large will chronicle the events leading up to and completing, the Selbees’ hacking of the Michigan and Massachusetts Lotteries. Using mathematics and his knack for puzzles, Jerry manages to decipher the trick behind the lottery, use it to win, and distribute the money throughout his community. This won’t come without its consequences, however, as they’re not the only ones after the money.
Paramount+ released the trailer on May 16, 2022. The trailer for Paramount+ Original Movie exhibits Jerry Selbee as an intelligent man and former Kellogg’s employee whose true genius is underappreciated by his higher-ups. Having a fascination with puzzles, Jerry discovers a loophole in the system behind the lottery using arithmetic. He and his wife, Marge, face a grim retirement of deficit funds. Seeing this as their opportunity to improve their own lives, and those within their community, they decide to apply Jerry’s newfound strategy and play the lottery on a grand scale. When college-age students figure out the loophole as well, they threaten Jerry and the people he’s helping if he and Marge don’t stop playing the lottery and interfering with the winning results.
Bryan Cranston is Gerald ‘Jerry’ Selbee. Cranston began his acting career in the 80s and 90s in television and film. He is largely known as Walter White in the hit show Breaking Bad, which won a staggering number of awards, including four Best Actor Emmies for Cranston. He recently starred in the Disney film The One and Only Ivan as the ringmaster of the Big Top Mall. In 2022, he reprised his part as Walter White for three episodes of Better Call Saul. Along with Jerry & Marge Go Large, Cranston’s upcoming projects include Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City and Matthew Vaughn’s Argylle.
Annette Bening is Marjorie ‘Marge’ Selbee. Bening hit screens in the late 80s. She garnered critical acclaim for playing Carolyn Burnham in the 1999 drama American Beauty, for which she won a BAFTA Award. She also won a Golden Globe Award and Satellite Award for leading the 2004 drama Being Julia as aging actress Julia Lambert. In 2010, Bening co-starred alongside Julianne Moore in the comedy-drama The Kids Are All Right, where she won another Golden Globe Award. Earlier this year, she played Euphemia Bouc in the film adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s novels, Death on the Nile. Her next film, Nyad is in post-production now, where Bening portrays long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad.
Rainn Wilson brings his comedic aura to Jerry & Marge Go Large as the cashier who sells the Selbees their lottery tickets. Wilson is widely known for having depicted the meme-worthy, eccentric Dwight Schrute in the award-winning mockumentary television series The Office.
Ever since Jerry Selbee was a young boy, he had a fascination with, and knack for, puzzles. In Fagone’s words in the HuffPost article, Jerry “happened to be the kind of person who saw puzzles all around him, puzzles that other people don’t realize are puzzles.” Despite this genius factor, Jerry only ever worked blue-collar jobs, following in the footsteps of his parents.
In 2003 at 64 years old, having sold his family-run store and entered retirement, Jerry’s curiosity peaked with a new challenge. An analysis of a flyer for the lottery revealed another pattern, which would later become the trick for winning millions of dollars. He first hid this revelation from Marge, who openly disapproved of gambling. But when his experiments with the lottery cycles and betting larger amounts of money reaped great profit, he shared the winnings and the loophole with her.
Jerry Selbee isn’t the only one to have hacked the lottery. He is, however, one of the few who used the loophole he found to bet and win and to currently be known for his accomplishment.
Though the dollar signs may widen most people’s eyes, the path to success included hard work. Jerry and Marge had to sit all day at various stores and their machines to print hundreds of lottery tickets. They then had to take note of the tickets they’d collected, going through each one. The arduous work wasn’t a chore to these two; to them, “it was a game.”
In June 2003, Jerry created GS Investment Strategies LLC, a corporation cover for their growing betting group. People could buy shares, and the profits of the betted money were split among shareholders. Even when Winfall ended in Michigan, and a revamped version kicked off in Massachusetts, Jerry found a way for his corporation to keep playing the game via the Massachusetts Lottery–by driving 700 miles to Massachusetts each week before each roll-down drawing.
Unfortunately, the students threatening Jerry’s hustle in Jerry & Marge Go Large are also inspired by real people. An MIT student, James Harvey, created his own betting group and began winning big using the same loophole Jerry had discovered. When he realized that profits were lower than they could be due to competition such as the Selbees, he devised a plan to force the roll-down week by betting large, blocking out any chance of the Selbees buying tickets and winning money. The MIT group even attempted to make a deal with the Selbees, suggesting the groups take turns each roll-down week. Jerry refused and continued operating GS Investment Strategies LLC on his own terms.
It wasn’t until a wider Boston Globe investigation of strange lottery outcomes forced the hands of lottery employees, putting restrictions on the game. The Selbees’ corporation had no choice but to cease operations.
Jerry and Marge played their last round in 2012. Across nine years, they “had grossed nearly $27 million.” All these profits had been split and shared among those in the betting group. And despite having their pockets spilling over with winnings, the Selbees continued to live humble lives.