McMillion$: McDonald’s Monopoly Fraud Revisited

McMillion$

The HBO documentary miniseries McMillion$ tells the gripping tale behind the McDonald’s Monopoly promotion scam. Between 1989 and 2001 a criminal ring defrauded more than $24 million in prizes from McDonald’s.

If not for a tipoff to a backwater FBI office, McDonald’s never would have found out about the fraud. The ensuing investigation resulted in the arrests of over 50 people. 

Directors and executive producers James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte bring this incredible story to life. They share how they developed the project. James and Brian also discuss the series’ entertaining cast of characters, including the FBI investigators who broke the scandal.

McMillion$ has earned five primetime Emmy nominations and scores of rave reviews. It is a refreshingly funny docuseries that captures the activities of a criminal syndicate, and it also has something to say about our willingness to believe the unbelievable.

“Some people knew what they were doing, but some people were legitimately duped into participating and claiming prizes, without ever knowing that this was a federal crime they were participating in.” – Brian Lazarte

Time Stamps:

02:38 – Where to watch the documentary McMillion$.
03:13 – How the release of the series went and how successful it was.
04:10 – A brief synopsis of McMillion$.
07:15 – How the game massively affected McDonald’s sales.
09:37 – Who tipped off the authorities about the criminal gang.
10:29 – How the FBI pursued the investigation.
14:06 – What it was like meeting FBI agents for the first time.
16:57 – How James got the idea to make the film.
18:42 – Brian’s first reaction when he heard the game was rigged.
22:49 – When James realised that the film was going to be successful.
24:32 – How they made an old story feel gripping and relevant.
29:35 – Why they decided to use re-enactments in the film.
33:55 – What it’s like being nominated for five Emmys.
35:40 – The companion podcast they did alongside the series.
41:06 – The next project they are working on.
42:58 – What drew them both to work on dark comedy documentaries.
45:44 – The difficulties involved with pitching dark comedy documentaries.
47:10 – Lessons Brian and James have learned from the project.

Resources:

McMillion$ (2020)
McMillion$ Podcast
Shamrock Productions
This is Distorted
Alamo Pictures

Connect with James Lee Hernandez:
Twitter
LinkedIn

Connect with Brian Lazarte:
Instagram
Facebook
Website

Connect with Factual America:
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Connect with Matthew Sherwood:
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LinkedIn
Twitter

More from Factual America:
MLK/FBI: America on a Collision Course
Alex Gibney’s Theranos Scandal Documentary

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Episode 47
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