HBO is telling the tale of one of the most super-sized scams of all time: the McDonald’s Monopoly game.
Based on a 2018 Daily Beast story by Jeff Maysh, McMillions is a six-part docuseries about ex-cop Jerry Jacobson, nicknamed Uncle Jerry, who rigged the McDonald’s Monopoly game for a decade — effectively stealing millions of dollars and building a network of wrongdoers across the U.S.
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“This story has got everything,” a series of interviewees intone at the start of the trailer, “revenge, drugs, greed, Ronald McDonald.”
If you weren’t alive and craving fries between 1987 and 2001, the McDonald’s Monopoly game was an extremely successful promotion wherein customers collected game pieces that could net them prizes that ranged from a free small fries to $1 million.
The trailer depicts how law enforcement first reacted to news that someone could be rigging the game: doubtfully. Soon, though, the investigation uncovered something pretty sinister: The FBI found that game pieces were being stolen by “gangster” Uncle Jerry, who gained easy access to the pieces since he worked for the production company that made them, Simon Marketing, as director of security. He then turned the pieces over to what the Daily Beast called “a sprawling network of mobsters, psychics, strip-club owners, convicts, drug traffickers, and even a family of Mormons, who had falsely claimed more than $24 million in cash and prizes.” Pieces were then sold off.
As the trailer states, most of the people who bought the purloined pieces were “good people” in need of cash. In the end, though, lives were ruined. More than 50 people ended up being convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy.
McMillions premieres on February 3rd. James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte directed the series, with Mark Wahlberg producing. Other versions of the tale are also in the works; there was a bidding war for the story in 2018, with Ben Affleck and Fox securing the rights to the Daily Beast story.
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