Evart couple's lottery winfall retold in Paramount+ movie

'Jerry & Marge Go Large' set to be released June 17

EVART — Gerald Selbee expected his story would be made into a movie. 

Originally from Athens, in Calhoun County, Gerald and his wife, Margaret, made headlines 20 years ago when Gerald found a mathematical loophole in the Winfall lottery. By exploiting the loophole in Michigan, and then in Massachusetts, CBS News reported they earned $26 million. 

A Boston Globe article described how the Selbees competed with MIT students who figured out the same loophole. They both refused to tell reporters what they figured out so they could maximize their profits. But Selbee said there was “no animosity” between them. 

On the other hand, the trailer for the film changes the students to hail from Harvard, and it implies a larger competition between them. 

The millions went into an investment corporation. The Selbees paid for their children’s tuition and gave it to family and friends. With the rest of the money, they created a construction company for Veteran housing. 

The Battle Creek Inquirer said they went big with a 2018 Huffington Post article by Jason Fagone, which the movie based the script on. 

It was a perfect human interest story, Selbee said. 

“I’m biased,” he said. “I liked it. (Bryan Cranston) did a very good job at me.”

Cranston, known for his role in the series “Breaking Bad,” spent a week with Gerald and Margaret, who now live in Evart.

It was a “nice experience,” Selbee said.

“In fact, Bryan Cranston brought his brother Kyle because he hasn’t seen him in 18 months because of COVID,” he said. “It was a chance for them to get together, and that was really nice.” 

Their construction company operated for about seven years before shuttering due to a dispute with the builder, Selbee said. The money returned to investors and helps to fund Gerald and Margaret’s retirement in Evart. 

He hopes people will help not only themselves, but their family and community.

“Everybody has different talents and different opportunities may come up,” he said. “If those opportunities do come up, they should take advantage of them to provide some benefit not only themselves, but for others.”

These days, Gerald Selbee is enjoying his retirement by doing some low-stakes sports betting and taking it easy, he said. 

“Jerry & Marge Go Large” is scheduled to release June 17  through the Paramount+ streaming service. It was directed by David Frankel with a script by Brad Copeland and produced by Gil Netter.