McMillions premiered on HBO on Monday, February 3rd.
Wherever there are gains, there is the risk of ill-gotten gains. Even at the drive-thru.
The McDonald’s Monopoly game, featuring both instant-win opportunities and game pieces that could be collected to win prizes in sets, has been run in markets around the world off and on since 1987. It has encouraged people to collect their game pieces from french fry boxes and cups, and even from inside magazines. And, as Jeff Maysh detailed in The Daily Beast in 2018, throughout the 1990s, it was the subject of massive fraud.
Now, HBO has a documentary series called McMillions (which they style in some places, but not all, as McMillion$). Told in six parts, it begins with a flashy FBI agent who discovered a Post-It note on his partner’s desk about the case and sank his teeth into it, and it widens out to include McDonald’s personnel, other investigators, and the people closely and less closely connected to the scheme that saw game pieces directed into the hands of particular conspirators. How did they do it? How did it turn out that, the agent asserts on camera, there were “almost no legitimate winners” of the major prizes for more than 10 years? It takes multiple hours to explain.