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]

This Outdoor Lantern Will Keep Mosquitoes Away—No Bug Spray Necessary

Thermacell, Amazon
Thermacell, Amazon

With summer comes outdoor activities, and with those activities come mosquito bites. If you're one of the unlucky people who seem to attract the insects, you may be tempted to lock yourself inside for the rest of the season. But you don't have to choose between comfort and having a cocktail on the porch, because this lamp from Thermacell ($25) keeps outdoor spaces mosquito-free without the mess of bug spray.

The device looks like an ordinary lantern you would display on a patio, but it works like bug repellent. When it's turned on, a fuel cartridge in the center provides the heat needed to activate a repellent mat on top of the lamp. Once activated, the repellent in the mat creates a 15-by-15-foot bubble of protection that repels any mosquitos nearby, making it a great option for camping trips, days by the pool, and backyard barbecues.

Mosquito repellent lantern.

Unlike some other mosquito repellents, this lantern is clean, safe, and scent-free. It also provides light like a real lamp, so you can keep pests away without ruining your backyard's ambience.

The Thermacell mosquito repellent lantern is now available on Amazon. If you've already suffered your first mosquito bites of the summer, here's some insight into why that itch can be so excruciating.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

35 Offbeat Holidays You Can Celebrate in July

mscornelius/iStock via Getty Images
mscornelius/iStock via Getty Images

The big fireworks show may come at the beginning of the month, but there are plenty more celebrations to keep you feeling Yankee Doodle Dandy all the way through to August.

1. July 1: National Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day

Multicolored scoops of ice cream
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In 1984, Ronald Reagan deemed July National Ice Cream Month, and the third Sunday of this month National Ice Cream Day. As great as the treat itself is, we’re big fans of those unusual flavor combinations that make you question the limitations of culinary science and marvel at their possibilities!

2. July 2: World UFO Day

Keep your eyes on the sky at night on this day, because the truth is out there. What's the best way to celebrate? The World UFO Day website suggests "watching UFO movies, talking with your friends about the possibility of UFOs or alien life."

3. July 3: The Start of the Dog Days of Summer

That's right, dog days is more than just an evocative, old-timey phrase. The Farmer's Almanac describes it as the period of the summer when Sirius, the Dog Star (hence the name), rises each day around the same time as the sun. Or as we know it now, the really hot stretch of summer running from July 3 to August 11. Interestingly, the start of this steamy stretch for the Northern Hemisphere actually coincides with the day Earth reaches its aphelion, the point in the orbit farthest from the sun.

4. July 3-9: Be Nice to New Jersey Week

New Jersey gets a lot of flak. This is the week to make up for all those Jersey Shore jokes.

5. July 4: Sidewalk Egg Frying Day

Photo of a fried egg on hot concrete
skodonnell/iStock via Getty Images

We’ve all heard the phrase “so hot outside you could fry an egg,” but today is the day we put that expression to the test. Though the origins of this climate-specific holiday are unknown, we imagine heat-inclined states were the earliest adopters.

6. July 6: International Kissing Day

Pucker up for some summer love! Formerly known as National Kissing Day in the United Kingdom, this holiday was invented to remind us all of the simple pleasure a sweet kiss can bring. It is also cited as a direct cause for National Mono Day (which also occurs on July 6).

7. July 7: Father-Daughter Take a Walk Together Day

Just because July 7 is designated as Father-Daughter Talk a Walk Together Day does not mean that it's an activity to be avoided the other 364 days of the year. The same goes for Tell the Truth Day, which is also July 7.

8. July 10: Teddy Bear Picnic Day

In the early 20th century, John Walter Bratton composed an instrumental song entitled “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.” In the late 1980s, collectible items dealer Royal Selangor decided to turn that into a national holiday. He also had the idea to conveniently release toy boxes and collectible items in conjunction with said event. Regardless of capitalist motives, the day became a national holiday and remains popular throughout Europe, as far away as Australia, and among many reputable stuffed bear circles.

9. July 10: Don’t Step On A Bee Day

Stepping on a bee is bad for a lot of reasons (and for both parties involved), which is why it's good that these furry friends usually stick to the skies.

10. July 11: Bowdler's Day


This day honors the prudish man who gave us the word bowdlerize. English doctor Thomas Bowdler quit his job to focus on expunging all lewd and indecent references from Shakespeare's work. His (presumably much shorter) version of the Bard's tales, Family Shakespeare, came out in 1818, after which he turned his attention to Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and sections of the Old Testament.

11. July 11: World Population Day

World Population Day, which was created by the United Nations Development Programme in 1989, "seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues."

12. July 13: National French Fries Day

Or National Freedom Fries Day, depending on your politics. We can’t make any promises, but some restaurants have made a point of giving away complimentary fries in the past. Free or not, on this day treat yourself to a full basket of fried goodness—guilt-free.

13. July 13: Embrace Your Geekness Day

Whatever your definition of a geek may be, lean into why you're proud to be one.

14. July 13: International Town Criers Day


This holiday, which occurs annually on the second Monday in July, is a chance to honor the lost art of speaking loudly and starting proclamations with "Hear ye, hear ye!" in celebration of the ancient practice of town crying.

15. July 14: National Nude Day

Yes, this is the day the Tobias Fünkes of the world fear most. Originating in New Zealand, this non-public holiday encourages everyone to publicly celebrate their all-natural form. Note: please be sure to familiarize yourself with current local legislation concerning public nudity, lest you find yourself observing “international delinquent day.”

16. July 15: Saint Swithin's Day

Little is known about Swithin, the Bishop of Winchester in the 800s. But what is known is that many years after his death, his relics were transferred to the Winchester Cathedral on July 15, 971, a day which featured heavy rains. Since then, the belief has been that if it rains on this day, it will continue to rain for 40 more days.

17. July 18: Mandela Day


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Since 2009, Nelson Mandela's birthday has been celebrated as a chance to honor his life and inspire others to take action to change the world for the better.

18. July 18: National Woodie Wagon Day

Celebrate this symbol of 1940s and '50s Americana with a drive down Route 66 (or at least what's left of it).

19. July 19: National Ice Cream Day

In the middle of Ice Cream Month, there is Ice Cream Day. You know what to do.

20. July 19: National Flitch Day

A 15th century relic, a flitch referred to an amount of bacon offered to married couples by local monks who could prove a year’s worth of matrimonial bliss to a jury of their single peers. Thought to have originated in Dunmore, England, the modern-day flitch ceremony now takes place once every four years, but is still very much all about the bacon.

21. July 20: National Get Out of the Doghouse Day

It'll probably be too hot to hold grudges anyway.

22. July 20: Take Your Poet To Work Day

If you have a real-life poet friend, this could probably apply to them. But this holiday is meant to be for pocketing your favorite famous lyricist and taking them to your place of business (seriously).

23. July 21: No Pet Store Puppies Day


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Many puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills, which, according to the Humane Society, are "inhumane, commercial dog-breeding [facilities] in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits." The ASPCA campaigns to reduce demand for these puppy mill puppies by calling for a full boycott of stores that sell them.

24. July 22: Rat-Catcher’s Day

On the supposed anniversary of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, this day honors exterminators of all shapes, sizes, and species.

25. July 22: Spooner's Day


Reverend William Archibald Spooner was a learned man, the warden of New College at Oxford. But he also had a habit of transposing the first letter of certain words. It is from his frequent, funny slips of the tongue that we get the word spoonerism.

26. July 24: National Drive-Thru Day

As with every food or beverage-related holiday, you're probably celebrating this anyway, but now you have a reason.

27. July 24: National Tell an Old Joke Day

Dust off your best chicken-crossing-the-road zinger.

28. July 24: Cousins Day

Get the whole family together—via Zoom, of course—and take a screen shot (or whatever families do).

29. July 26: Parents' Day

Did you think you were off the hook for appreciating the people who gave you life just because you made it through Mother's Day and Father's Day? Think again.

30. July 27: Bagpipe Appreciation Day


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Though bagpipes are perhaps most commonly linked to the Scottish, the largest producer in the world of this aerophone instrument is Pakistan. Just one of many fun facts you can toss out on Bagpipe Appreciation Day. You're welcome.

31. July 27: Walk on Stilts Day

If you can.

32. July 27: Take Your Houseplants For A Walk Day

It doesn't matter if your neighbors think you're crazy. Set those plants free!

33. July 29: National Lasagna Day

Grab some ricotta, pasta, and Bolognese and whip up a homemade lasagna, then catch up on some Garfield comics while you wait for it to finish cooking. There are many ways to honor National Lasagna Day. The only wrong way is to not honor it at all.

34. July 30: National Chili Dog Day

The last Thursday in July is your annual chance to proclaim your affection for this truly American delicacy.

35. July 31: National Talk in an Elevator Day


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We all do it. We look at our phone, at our feet, or at the fresh coffee stain on our shirts. Anything to avoid even making eye contact with our fellow elevator riders. Not today. Not on the last Friday in July. Say hello to your fellow elevator rider—through your face mask, of course.