The audience was stunned when contestant Michael Larson won $110,237 on Press Your Luck in 1984, easily the largest one-day total ever won on a game show to that date. As lights flashed randomly on the Big Board, somehow Larson was consistently able to stop on squares that led to cash and additional play, and avoid the “whammy” that would bankrupt him.
It turned out that the light indicator wasn’t random. In studying the game at home, Larson had discovered that it followed five recognizable patterns; after memorizing these he could always be sure of landing on winning squares.
CBS producers divined the scheme, but they could find no cause to disqualify Larson, as he had broken no rules. They paid him his money, fixed the board, and established a maximum sum that future contestants could win.
Larson may have congratulated himself, but he didn’t get to enjoy his winnings — he lost the money in bad real estate investments and died of throat cancer at age 49.