Michael Hoover: Who was lucky ‘winner’ on McMillions?

Michael Hoover, a McDonalds Monopoly 'winner
Michael Hoover is the McDonalds’ Monopoly winner at the heart of an FBI investigation. Pic credit: HBO

Michael Hoover found himself in the middle of an FBI investigation as he tried to collect the McDonalds’ Monopoly $1 million prize.

It all started when Special Agent Doug Mathews, bored with the constant influx of healthcare fraud cases that came across his desk, asked his boss to let him look into a tip on the McDonalds’ Monopoly game that was so popular over the past few decades.

After learning that three winners not only lived in Jacksonville, Florida but were also related to each other, that sparked the interest of his superiors and the FBI started to investigate whether or not there was fraud going on with the Monopoly contest.

How did Michael Hoover get caught?

In order to prove that there was fraud, the FBI agents needed to see it in action and that led them to the latest “winner,” Michael Hoover.

It was Special Agent Doug Mathews that went undercover in an FBI sting where he acted as the director of a film company that was making a commercial featuring the latest McDonalds’ Monopoly winner.

While undercover, Mathews asked Hoover how exactly he found the $1 million instant prize, a story that any true winner would be excited to tell.

Hoover led FBI agents to a local grocery store where he said that he purchased a PEOPLE magazine that contained the winning game piece.

Investigators didn’t buy that story and decided to probe further and what they found led to the arrests of eight people including the ringleader, Jerome “Jerry” Jacobson, who worked as head of Simon Marketing, the company that managed the Monopoly contest.

How the McDonalds Monopoly scheme worked

It turns out that Jacobson, known as “Uncle Jerry” was the mastermind behind the Monopoly game piece fraud.

“After game pieces were produced, they were supposed to be legitimately distributed to provide customers a random chance of winning,” according to Attorney General John Ashcroft in a statement released in August 2001.

“However, the government is charging that a Simon employee, Jerome Jacobson, embezzled the winning high-value game pieces and conspired to have individuals fraudulently claim to be the winners.”

Not only was Uncle Jerry giving the game pieces out to friends, but he was also having them distribute them and then both would share in the winnings.

Jerry Jacobson, Michael Hoover, and six others were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The statement claimed that over $13 million in high-value prizes were “won” fraudulently in this scheme.

McMillions airs Mondays at 10/9c on HBO

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