Jerry and Marge Shelbee are a retired couple from Michigan, US, who won the state lotto. Although this is hard to do, it’s not uncommon with weekly winners. What made them stand out and caught investigator's attention was them winning several State lottos dozens of times, taking home over $26M in prizes.
At first glance, it may seem something nefarious was going on. However, investigators quickly realized the wins were all legit. Jerry and Marge were making full use of a feature of the lotto to win constantly and consistently.
That feature was called a "Rolldown", and the lottery announced when it was coming. If no one wins the jackpot, the money would roll down to lower tiered prize winners, boosting dramatically their fixed payout.
After reading the published odds, Jerry was able to calculate a winning strategy within 3 minutes using basic arithmetic. When a “rolldown” occurs, every ticket had an expected positive return! All he and Marge had to do was buy as many tickets as possible and the money started rolling in. After a while close friends and family joined in the fun.
When the lotto game in Michigan closed down, they started playing in Massachusetts, which also had a similar payout system. Things ended in 2011 when the Boston Globe received a tipoff about unusual ticket sales in places and other syndicates also came up with similar strategies, but not before they had won over $26M in prizes.
This is a fantastic story and we all wish it could be us!
Want to know a secret? I have a game that makes me an insane amount of money and I’m willing to share the secret with my readers. It’s similar to the state lottery success of Jerry and Marge.
The Secret to Winning
It’s the stock market! Investing in the stock market won’t make you a winner every year. However, your expected return for money invested* is about 10% annually in the long run! And if you invest enough money for long enough, the compounded returns could run in the millions, far bigger than winning most lottos!
In fact, the stock market is way better for several reasons:
Legal – you can play it in nearly every country without fear of the police. Some countries even allow people under 18 to play it and parents can even play it on behalf of the children.
Scalability – Tell all your friends and family this secret so they benefit as well. The fact that they play and win has no impact on your winnings so share the love around!
Expected positive return – Lotto games have a negative expected return (the house always wins) with the chance of an individual ticket winning top prize is ~0%. Conversely, you are expected to win consistently, constantly, and effortlessly like Jerry and Marge, at an expected profit rate of ~10% compounded annually!
No limit – The stock market game is so big that no matter how little or how much money you put in, your winnings are linear and in proportion to the amount invested. As it stands, the equity part of the stock market stands at ~$94T (end of 2020) while the bond portion is a whopping $119T.
Availability – The stock market game is available on all continents (except Antarctica) and most countries. Investments can be made during business hours on over 20 major exchanges (and 100+ minor exchanges) around the world. There’s no chance of this game getting shut down in the foreseeable future so the gravy train will continue indefinitely, unlike what happened to Jerry and Marge.
Get Started Winning Now
So, unless you are really lucky (or smart) to find a lotto game with positive expected returns, my hot tip is to invest in a broad index of the global stock market for a ~100% success rate (compared to ~0% on a normal lotto ticket) to build long term wealth.
Through the compounding of growth over time, the returns on your investments are likely to be greater than most jackpots you could hope to win. There’s no longer the need to gamble – simply buy a broad index tracking ETF with your "lotto money" for a guaranteed jackpot at retirement and ride off into the sunset like Jerry and Marge.
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*Buying and holding a single low-cost whole-market-tracking index fund is what we're talking about here. Picking and choosing individual stocks or indexes of particular countries or sectors will not lead to the same results due to a lack of diversification. Timing the market by actively trading is also a losing game.
Jerry & Marge Go Large (2022)