The story of how a fast food contest turned into an elaborate crime ring.
Earlier this week, HBO premiered the first of a six-part documentary series entitled McMillions that goes in-depth on the infamous McDonald’s Monopoly contest, and the millions of dollars that were stolen, lost, and extorted as a result of it.
From 1987 to 2001, McDonald’s ran its Monopoly contest on a regular basis, placing game pieces on fry and burger boxes and drinks. Customers could peel the pieces off and win prizes ranging from something as innocuous as a free drink to a grand prize of $1 million. However, while a rare few did find the winning pieces by sheer chance, many actually “received” their winning pieces due to the machinations of a crime ring set up by one Jerome Jacobson. Jacobson, an ex-police officer, ran a smuggling scheme to grab and traffic as many winning tickets as possible, while occasionally pawning a winning ticket off on a random person to keep the heat off. From this crime ring’s efforts, over $24 million in illegal prize winnings were obtained. It wasn’t until 2001, when fledgling FBI agent Doug Mathews, receives a single breadcrumb clue that would lead him and his team to a bust of unfathomable proportions.
The first part of McMillions aired on Monday, and the following five parts will air every following Monday at 10 PM Eastern time.