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Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video - Crime - Nairaland

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Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 6:58am On Feb 12
Back in May of 1984, a 35-year-old former ice-cream truck driver from Lebanon Ohio named Michael Larson flew to California to audition for the CBS game show, Press Your Luck.  Michael was no ordinary contestant though.  He was a man who had spent quite a lot of time studying the show and was more than prepared when he got his break to appear on the show.

The premise of the Press Your Luck game show was simple.  There was a rectangular game board that was filled with squares that indicated different cash amounts.  The contestants would take turns “spinning” the game board.  The squares would light up in what seemed to be a random order, and the player would press a button to stop the “spin”.  Lights would illuminate the square they stopped on, and they won whatever amount was in that square.  In addition to cash prizes, there were also other prizes like vacations, pool tables, or sailboats for example.  The squares to stay away from though were the “Whammy” squares that featured a little cartoon drawing of a devil that would wipe out their entire winnings.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfOm7K8A0Pw

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Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 7:02am On Feb 12
But after watching the show for hours on end, Larson realized that the blinking board wasn’t exactly as unpredictable as it appeared to be.  With the use of VCR technology and a whole lot of pausing and rewinding, he discovered that the board followed five distinct patterns, which he was able to memorize.  He knew that if he could only get onto the game show, he would be able to control the board in any way he wanted….stopping on big money and free spins without landing on the dreaded Whammies….and he could make a fortune.

Larson didn’t really have any money though, so to even get on the show, he had to borrow airfare from his home in central Ohio to California, and he bought the shirt he wore on the show at a thrift store for just $0.65.

With that part of the plan all set, all he had to worry about was actually getting picked to be on the show.  He had watched more than enough episodes to know what kind of contestant the producers were looking for.  He knew that he couldn’t look cocky or confident, so during the screening process, he acted perky, excited, and self-deprecating.  The act worked because he made it onto the show the same day he auditioned.  He continued his act from his audition onto the show….being overly excited, bouncing in his seat, cheering on his fellow competitors, and even taking shots at himself when asked personal questions by the host, Peter Tomarken.  At one point, Tomarken asked Larson what he’d do with the money if he won, and Larson responded, “hopefully I’ll make enough so I won’t have to drive the ice-cream truck next summer.”

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Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 7:05am On Feb 12
After the first round of generic questions that were always asked in order for the contestants to earn spins, Larson was the first to get his turn on the board.  On his first spin, he stopped on a Whammy.  This was likely part of his plan to avoid suspicion since he had no money to lose to a Whammy.  On his next spins, he collected a modest $2500.  His two opponents on the show, Ed Long and Janie Litras, earned $4,080 and $4,608 respectively.  That ended the first round, and after a commercial break, it would be Larson’s turn on the board once again.  He wouldn’t be so modest with this set of spins.

On his first spin, he hit one of the best spots on the board:  $4,000 plus a Free Spin.  He followed that up with $5,000 and a Free Spin.  Next was $1,000 and a Free Spin.  And he just kept going.  He spun the board 40 consecutive times, and never hit a Whammy.  Not only was he not hitting Whammies, he kept purposely landing on the big money squares that also contained Free Spins.  Normally, contestants would hit a Whammy somewhere between 5 and 10 spins, but Larson shattered that average with his amazing performance.  When he finally decided to pass his remaining spins, he had racked up $102,851 and a couple of trips and other prizes.  The cash amount was so large, the show had to drop the dollar sign from his podium display because it was only designed for 5 digits of earnings, but Larson had shocked the system and ran his winnings up to 6 digits.

For his first 15 spins or so, the mood on the set was electric.  The crowd was cheering him on to keep spinning, his fellow contestants were shocked and amazed at his performance, and host Peter Tomarken was simply astounded.  But you know who wasn’t excited?  The producers back in the control room, that’s who.  It didn’t take very long for the producers to suspect that not all was on the up and up.  They quickly assessed that Larson wasn’t just lucky, but that he had some kind of system in play.  Unfortunately for them, there wasn’t anything they could do about it because as far as they could tell, he wasn’t breaking any rules.

As Larson continued to rack up the big money and free spins, the mood of his fellow contestants changed.  You could see they were losing their patience as all they could do was sit there and watch him play.

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Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 7:08am On Feb 12
Michael’s turn took so long, that one single half-hour episode couldn’t contain his entire turn, so it had to be broken up into a two-part episode.  Even though they weren’t happy with his performance, the producers knew that this was newsworthy, and could potentially be a ratings grabber if advertised correctly.  To have enough content from the game to completely fill two episodes, Tomarken recorded an interview with Larson.

Normally, winners on Press Your Luck were invited back on the following episode to defend their title, but that offer was not extended to Michael Larson.  CBS rules stated that any contestant who’d won more than $25,000 couldn’t come back.  That little rule robbed the world of seeing just how far Michael Larson could go.

The two episodes aired on Friday, June 8, and Monday, June 11, 1984.  That was the only time those episodes would see the light of day for almost 20 years.  CBS was so embarrassed by what had happened that they locked the episodes away in their vault.  In later years, when USA and the Game Show Network bought the syndication rights to air old episodes, CBS refused to let them air the Michael Larson shows.

So What Happened to Michael Larson After Press Your Luck?

Since Larson hadn’t really done anything illegal, he was allowed to keep his $110,237, of which he had to pay $30,000 in taxes.

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Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 7:09am On Feb 12
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 7:16am On Feb 12
What he won on todays' worth is 283000 dollars
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by ArcFresky(m): 7:22am On Feb 12
grin grin that guy naa bad market..

3 Likes

Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 7:26am On Feb 12
ArcFresky:
grin grin that guy naa bad market..

I swear, that is what real 'dedication' is.

2 Likes

Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by binghammer: 8:08am On Feb 12
Really interesting story. Thanks for sharing. Just went to look him up.

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Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 8:12am On Feb 12
binghammer:
Really interesting story. Thanks for sharing. Just went to look him up.

You're welcome
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Stockquality: 8:17am On Feb 12
Heya,the man know say u no fit see such free money in yankee in one day,lai lai. As at that time,na very big man o. Why naija no dey play this kind of game na,why, e no fit work sha. Robbers go dey everywhere dey wait am.

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Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by anonymuz(m): 8:23am On Feb 12
ArcFresky:
grin grin that guy naa bad market..
you don't to brilliant need before you make in life.all it take is to me smart and diligent.

2 Likes

Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Kingkun69(m): 8:26am On Feb 12
Why i no fit see this luck for sportybet sad
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 9:05am On Feb 12
Stockquality:
Heya,the man know say u no fit see such free money in yankee in one day,lai lai. As at that time,na very big man o. Why naija no dey play this kind of game na,why, e no fit work sha. Robbers go dey everywhere dey wait am.

I don't think it will work in this era too, now that nearly everyone is very much acquainted with technology, gaming etc. Very easy to crack codes
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 9:06am On Feb 12
anonymuz:
you don't to brilliant need before you make in life.all it take is to me smart and diligent.

Yeah, just look at this guy
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 9:07am On Feb 12
Kingkun69:
Why i no fit see this luck for sportybet sad

grin ,D you can, may be after spending sooooo mucchhh amount of money, just hustle it will pay one day

1 Like

Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by bomasek(m): 9:19am On Feb 12
The man ended up been one of the pioneers of internet scams.
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 9:24am On Feb 12
bomasek:
The man ended up been one of the pioneers of internet scams.

Not convicted though...
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by padi94(m): 9:30am On Feb 12
Wow sad ending, lottery money sometimes doesn't end well, Died at 49. God first in everything.

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Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 9:31am On Feb 12
padi94:
Wow sad ending, lottery money sometimes doesn't end well, Died at 49. God first in everything.

One of the saddest stories I heard.
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by bomasek(m): 10:03am On Feb 12
Riplogic:


Not convicted though...
Death was his escape route

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Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 10:24am On Feb 12
bomasek:
Death was his escape route

Yeah, not the escape he really wanted.
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by gulfer: 2:31pm On Feb 12
I tried to do similar on "who want to be a millionaire" Nigeria edition but was too confident and refused to use my lifelines...still went home with N250k sha because I thought I'd studied the game so much tongue tongue tongue tongue
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 6:06pm On Feb 12
gulfer:
I tried to do similar on "who want to be a millionaire" Nigeria edition but was too confident and refused to use my lifelines...still went home with N250k sha because I thought I'd studied the game so much tongue tongue tongue tongue

shocked shocked that many years ago? You are Nigerian version of Larson
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 6:06pm On Feb 12
gulfer:
I tried to do similar on "who want to be a millionaire" Nigeria edition but was too confident and refused to use my lifelines...still went home with N250k sha because I thought I'd studied the game so much tongue tongue tongue tongue

I didn't know it was true though
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by Riplogic(m): 6:10pm On Feb 12
gulfer:
I tried to do similar on "who want to be a millionaire" Nigeria edition but was too confident and refused to use my lifelines...still went home with N250k sha because I thought I'd studied the game so much tongue tongue tongue tongue

But is that not a little heist?
Re: Story Of The Man Who Cracked Codes And Won $283,000 Photos/video by gulfer: 6:21pm On Feb 12
Riplogic:


shocked shocked that many years ago? You are Nigerian version of Larson
That should be about 2007/2008

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