‘McMillion$’ Directors Detail the Complexity of the $24 Million Fraud Ring That Inspired the Docuseries (Video)

Sundance 2020: “Think about the amount of people that you would trust with a big secret like this,” co-director Brian Lazarte tells TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman

How many people does it take to defraud McDonald’s out of $24 million?

Directors James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte dropped by TheWrap studio at Sundance to discuss the six-part docuseries “McMillion$,” which made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and premiered on HBO on Feb. 3. It examines the $24 million that was stolen from the McDonald’s Monopoly game between 1989 and 2001, in which there were “almost no legitimate million-dollar winners” in the contest.

“It’s a fascinating thing,” Hernandez explained, “because it spanned this huge amount of time and even the FBI agents said on all the years working cases, how do you keep this many people quiet for that many years?”

Hernandez gave a little insight into how the crime took place (without giving too much away) telling TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman, “So it started out with getting the game piece and then you have to get a recruiter because think about the amount of people you know that you would trust with a big secret like this.”

“But each winner couldn’t live in the same exact city to make it seem as if it was random throughout the country,” Lazarte added. “So every person who came forward, they claimed that they were the person who actually peeled the game. But in fact, they either purchased the game piece through this syndicate, claimed the piece for themselves, and then distributed the money through whoever else was attached to it.”

In addition to writing and directing “McMillion$,” Hernandez and Lazarte also executive produced the doc series along with Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson and Archie Gips.

The whole scam was first exposed in a 2018 article in the Daily Beast, which explained how Jerome Jacobson and a network of mobsters managed to fix the game over the course of 12 years until the FBI nabbed them. Ben Affleck and 20th Century Fox even nabbed the rights to the story back in 2018, and Affleck had an eye on directing the film for Matt Damon to star.

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