The Supersized Scheme to Beat McDonald's Monopoly

Getty
Getty

When the annual McDonald's Monopoly comes to a close, your “big winnings” will likely amount to a free McFlurry—and that’s if you’re lucky. Logically, we know the odds of buying eligible menu items and collecting a full set of cash prize-winning pieces like Boardwalk and Park Place are infinitesimal. Still, we rip the game pieces from soda cups and fry boxes with the secret hope of receiving a coveted property.

And when we say the odds are bad, we mean they’re bad: According to Business Insider, you have a 1 in 602 million chance of getting Boardwalk, a 1 in 150 million chance of getting Short Line, and a 1 in 15 million chance of getting Kentucky Ave. Unless you’re someone like Jerome Jacobson. Then your odds improve substantially.

Jacobson worked in security at Simon Marketing Inc., the company responsible for the printing and distribution of McDonald’s Monopoly game pieces. After the pieces were printed, the valuable ones were placed in envelopes and given VIP transport to the various production plants where they were supposed to be attached to the McDonald's packaging, Priceonomics says. Jacobson, a former policeman, was the escort for these important pieces—and by 1989, two years into the Monopoly promotion, temptation proved too sweet to resist. He started out slow, opening an envelope and stealing a stamp worth just $25,000. He gave it to his stepbrother, who cashed it in without incident.

With one successful heist under his belt, Jacobson, who went by the alias “Uncle Jerry,” got bolder. By the mid-'90s, virtually all of the major prizes were awarded to someone who had been handpicked by Uncle Jerry. One donation suggests that he may have felt a little like Robin Hood: In 1995, St. Jude’s Hospital mysteriously received an unmarked envelope containing $1 million worth of winning pieces. Though the gift remained anonymous for years, it was later revealed that Jacobson had been behind the donation, according to CNN.

In 2000, one of the members of the scam tipped off the FBI, which in turn launched an investigation they deemed “Operation Final Answer.” (Don’t judge the feds for confusing their games—a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-themed McDonald's promotion was also hacked by Jacobson.) Using methods such as wiretapping, phone records, and even tailing suspects to a secret meeting, The New York Times reported, the FBI was able to confirm that Uncle Jerry and his crew had taken in excess of $13 million in prizes. More than 50 people were indicted, and Jacobson himself went directly to jail without passing Go. Not only was he sentenced to three years and one month in federal prison, he also had to return the $1 million in kickbacks he received for doling out the prized pieces. Game over.

[h/t Priceonomics]

Florida Waffle House Is Giving Away Free Food to Hurricane Michael Victims

Barry Williams/Getty Images
Barry Williams/Getty Images

If your community has been hit by a hurricane and you want an idea of how it's coping, check your local Waffle House. The southern chain is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and only closes under extreme circumstances. The restaurant so rarely pauses its operations that FEMA has been using something called the Waffle House Index to gauge the severity of natural disasters since 2004. Now a Waffle House in Panama City, Florida, has shown that even a Category 4 storm isn't enough to shut it down for good.

After closing due to Hurricane Michael earlier in October, the Florida Waffle House set up a food truck in its parking lot to hand out free food to community members, ABC 7 reports. "We are giving out free food curbside until 6pm. #ScatteredSmotheredandRecover," the chain tweeted on Monday, October 15, along with a picture of its truck parked beneath a beat-up sign. Waffle House later tweeted that the truck would return to the same spot at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 16.

Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle on October 10 and swept through the southern U.S., killing at least 19 people and leaving thousands without power. The Gulf Coast received the brunt of the storm, but Waffle House has reported that, along with its Panama City location, the Lynn Haven, Florida, restaurant is running on a generator and back open for business.

[h/t ABC 7]

The Nightmare Before Dinner Cookbook Features More Than 60 Tim Burton-Inspired Recipes

Fans of Tim Burton’s movies may already know about Beetle House, the eatery—one in New York City and one in Los Angeles—where “every day is Halloween.” The decor is spooky, the staff dress up like Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, among others, and the menu is decidedly morbid.

You don’t have to make a special trip to sample their Frog's Breath & Nightshade Risotto, though. As Parade reports, the restaurateur behind Beetle House has created a cookbook titled The Nightmare Before Dinner: Recipes to Die For: The Beetle House Cookbook.

It's written by restaurant creator Zach Neil, whose love for Halloween came later in life. “Raised in a religious family that didn’t allow the celebration of Halloween, I dreamed of that amazing day when people dress up, express themselves, and, of course, get tricked or treated!” Neil writes in the cookbook’s introduction. That day finally came, and he now hopes to share that love with loyal fans of the restaurant, as well as those who haven’t had the chance to visit.

More than 60 recipes from the Beetle House are included in the cookbook, which is broken down into seven chapters. There are separate sections for sauces and dips (like the Dead Sauce), appetizers (Brains & Chips), soups and salads (The Butcher’s Stew), main dishes (Sweeney Beef), desserts (Bloodbath Cobbler), and cocktails (The Beetle’s Juice). Neil said the restaurant includes a vegan alternative to almost every dish on the menu, and some of those meat-free options are reflected in the cookbook.

The final section of the book, titled “Put the FUN Back in Funeral,” features ideas for Halloween and even Christmas parties. The Nightmare Before Dinner, priced at $16.51 in hardback or $11.99 for the Kindle version, is available for order on Amazon starting October 16.

[h/t Parade]

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