McMillions, the six-part HBO documentary, concluded with its sixth episode. McMillions Episode 6, picks up where the previous one left off. Before the end of the last episode, the series teased the fact an informant initially tipped the FBI off and without them, the case would have never been solved and the scam could potentially be continuing even today. At the start of McMillions Episode 6, it is immediately revealed who was the informant. The revelation is almost anti-climatic. Deep in debt due to receiving the winnings and having to pay both Jerry and the taxes, the informant revealed the truth to the IRS not realizing that information was later used by the FBI to begin the investigation.
Except, the episode pulls one over, not revealing the true informant until the last few minutes of the episode. The real reveal almost feels like a slap in the face because of the way the documentary teased just about everyone else. Choosing to show the truth at the end is frustrating as well since everything was so neatly tied up only to be drawn out again.
However, even with the informant’s help, the trial stalled following September 11, 2001. As media attention turned away from the McDonald’s scandal and forces in the FBI were reallocated, the case was put on the backburner. Even still, the justice department and Special Agent Doug Mathews continued to work tirelessly until justice was served. Knowing the battle ahead of them, Jerome Jacobson’s legal team worked out a plea deal. With Jacobson pleading guilty, the fate of the other people involved in the scam, including people who took tickets without realizing the extent of what they were agreeing to, was up in the air.
Most of the people involved in the scam pled guilty and took a plea deal. Some, however, went to trial facing a mountain of evidence and Mark Devereaux‘s scathing prosecution. The episode explains the complexities of the charges the defendants were facing. It also does well to tell both sides of the story. At the end of the day, even if these people had turned in a McDonald’s piece in violation of McDonald’s rules, they themselves were scammed by the middle-men providing the piece. In the case of George Chandler, Chandler was told the piece was won legitimately by Dwight Baker, his foster father, and that Baker wanted to give it away since he was getting divorced and didn’t want the winnings split with his wife. Chandler agreed not realizing the truth behind the winning game piece. Baker was a middle-man for Jacobson and most of the people he gave game pieces to were not aware of this.
In addition to explaining the intricacies of the trial, McMillions Episode 6 finally reveals how Jacobson was able to steal the pieces from Dittler Brothers, the printing company responsible for printing the game pieces. The process of how Jacobson was able to steal the game pieces and thus millions of dollars from McDonald’s is comically simple. Because of this, the reveal feels just as anti-climatic as the reveal of who was the informant. Throughout the series, McMillions has attempted to build up hype only for the payoff to never be all that rewarding. That being said, the case is still incredibly fascinating and it is hard to not be compelled to continue watching for that reason alone.
The finale of McMillions closes up the loose ends by focusing on the trial and Devereaux’s brilliant tactics for taking down everyone involved. However, because a majority of the action is done, the pacing feels far too slow. It is not necessarily that the episode is boring as much as it is not as interesting as the previous ones. The finale is also a lot more somber than the tones of previous episodes even during the darker moments. The last half of the episode focuses on Jacobson’s guilt and how his actions have affected so many. The documentary attempts to humanize Jacobson and ultimately points out the damage he did but it is mostly just boring and feels like a way to kill time until the 45-minute mark. McMillions more than likely would have benefited from being five episodes with the fifth episode being a tad longer.
McMillions, Episode 6
Throughout the series, McMillions has attempted to build up hype only for the payoff to never be all that rewarding. That being said, the case is still incredibly fascinating and it is hard to not be compelled to continue watching for that reason alone.