The Little-Known $1000000 Puzzle That’s Never Been Solved
Did you know that there is a long-lost puzzle with a million dollar prize that still has never been solved? This puzzle is called the money hunt and for the first time ever, I’m going to break down where it came from, why nobody won the prize and how you can try to solve it at home. This is what’s known as an armchair treasure hunt where you get a book full of clues, and then all of it is supposed to lead you to a secret location. This is a much crazier story than i ever anticipated, as you can see by my murder board. Trust me, everything on this board ends up being relevant, but before I get into it, let me show you the footage of me opening this up for the first time and solving the jigsaw puzzle.
$1000000 Puzzle That’s Never Been Solved
So, as you can see, this is still sealed. It is brand new, so for the first time since it was made in 1985 – let’s open it up so here it is. The money hunt is to win a million dollars in real money, not monopoly money, real money, and then here is what the back looks like. This is interesting, so you don’t get the full million dollars if you win, which nobody did. You get 50 000 per year for 20 years, I’m gon na talk more about the money later on and like where it went and what happened but for now. Okay, for now, I’m so excited I’m finally going to open up this puzzle.
Here we go. Oh, oh wow. Look at that very 80s illustration. So it looks like this is the puzzle, booklet and then next we’ve got uh. It looks like this is a big fold-out poster of some kind of map which is not going to fit on my camera frames, and then here is the jigsaw puzzle now.
This is only a 150 piece jigsaw puzzle, so i mean the jigsaw is not like the main attraction for this, but it gives me a reason to post about it on this channel, so i will definitely be doing that and that’s it. We have this little cardboard insert and nothing else is in the box. The pieces are made out of really thick cardboard, they’re really large. It feels really solid and high quality and yeah. There definitely seems to be a lot going on on these pieces, so i’m going to put it together and then i’ll be back to show you what it looks like um there’s, no reference image for this puzzle, which is a little more challenging, but it’s only 150 Pieces, so i don’t think it’ll take very long: [ Music, ], [, Music, ], [, Music ] all right well, just like i expected that didn’t take very long, and here is our finished puzzle.
The center illustration was actually a little trickier than I expected just because there is so much going on, although now that I’m looking at it, I definitely could have used the book for reference, because it is the exact same illustration. I’M actually impressed by the quality of this puzzle. You can see that this thing is like rock solid. I can pick it up, I can throw it around and literally nothing is happening to it. I’ll be honest.
This book is not what I expected. It’s just like. Full of illustrations with, like word, puzzles mixed into the illustrations. I don’t really know where to start, i’m going to take some time off camera, try to figure out what I’m looking at and then i’ll be back to walk you through it, and also to tell you like where this thing came from, because i’ve been doing a Lot of research, oh, what a sweet, innocent child. I shot that footage like six months ago and when I first heard about this puzzle, I was like no problem.
We have google, we have the internet. I will solve this in no time. Well not so much. I had no idea back then just how much time and frustration I would be sinking into this puzzle. So back in the 80s, there seemed to be kind of a fad of selling these armchair scavenger hunts with huge prizes.
I already covered on this channel the decipher puzzles, which had a hundred thousand dollar prize and came out right around the same time as this one. So this puzzle was made by john poser and it was released in may of 1986
This is a scavenger hunt, so the answer we’re looking for is a location, but nothing is actually buried or located at that location. You just have to send it in and then the person who gets it right wins a million dollars. You can see in the entry cards that, when you submit your answer, you’re meant to submit a country, a state or province and a specific location, and they tell us that it is definitely somewhere in North America. In the instructions they say that this puzzle will run for two years with a final entry date of march 31st, 1988
If no correct answers were received by then they said that they would release additional clues, but I don’t think that ever happened for reasons that I will get into later in the video.
I also want to clarify that to make things extra confusing, there was another puzzle called the money hunt released two years earlier in 1984. That was a videotape puzzle called money hunt, the mystery of the missing link. Maybe someday I’ll do a deep dive into that puzzle. As well, but for the purposes of this, a video that has nothing to do with the money hunt rewards one million dollars that I’m talking about today. So in the second half of this video I’m going to go through the timeline and all of the legal troubles surrounding this puzzle. Trust me there were a lot of them, but first, let’s cut back to the other day when I took a close look at every component of the puzzle itself, so they say on the box to begin with the jigsaw puzzle.
The full text running around the border says now that you have assembled the jigsaw puzzle. This poem will help you find the treasure. We recommend that you read the poem on the bottom of the puzzle several times. Now that we have started you on the right treasure hunt path, turn to page 11, the pool page where people are playing cards. One of the cards is the queen of spades.
What does that mean? Look for other clues on the same page as well as all other drawings. If all else fails read the instructions and then, of course, we have the poem at the bottom of the puzzle. A sad story was told of one not very old, climbing way up high, not quite to the sky, with lives made to pay to find the place one did play. So the text around the border is probably the most straightforward part of this entire puzzle.
It tells us to turn to page 11 in the book where sure enough. We have a pool scene and people playing cards. They then reference the queen of spades, which is out on the table, and my first thought was that the queen of spades was referencing. The card game hearts because the queen of spades is a very important card in that game, but it doesn’t look like they’re playing hearts. So if anyone can identify what card game they’re playing, that might be a good place to start.
So I’m going to get back to the puzzle book in a minute and I’m going to go through it page by page, but first let me show you the third thing that comes in the box. This giant poster on one side is a map of North America and I really don’t know if there’s anything special about this map. On the one hand, it could just be included, because obviously this came out before google maps or any like online maps and they’re very specific – that everything you need to solve. The puzzle is included in the box, so I don’t think they wanted you to have to go out and buy an atlas or anything. But there are like numbers and lines on this map that could be used to pinpoint a location.
So who knows, and then on the other side is this – I guess it’s not really like a maze, it’s just a line, putting the pages of the book in order. As far as i can tell, this really isn’t a puzzle, because each image just corresponds to one page of the book and they’re all represented. So here is the page order that this poster is telling us to go in, but then it’s just hard to know what to do with that. Like does each page then give us a clue to the next page. Are we meant to end up with a word or a letter or a number from each page, and then this is telling us the order that they go in.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about it and i can just come on here and say that i do not know all right. So now, let’s go through the puzzle book page by page and I’ll show you all of the progress that my sister and I have made. Some of the pages have relatively easy mini puzzles within them, and then some I have literally no idea what to do with and if you want to follow along and look at all of the pages in their full detail. I’Ll have a pdf of the entire book right down below so first we have two pages of rules and instructions. I’ll get more into the legal aspects of this puzzle later, but the jigsaw puzzle did say to read the rules carefully. So here they are.
I didn’t personally see any hints within the instructions, but maybe one of you will spot something. Next, we have a summary of notes and calculations page, and it is interesting that they only give us three lines per page because, as you’ll see, the puzzles seem so much more complicated than that. You know. Maybe it means that the puzzles are easier than we think, or maybe that’s just the size. These boxes needed to be to fit all of them on one page, you know, maybe it doesn’t mean anything so.
Okay, our first puzzle page is page five. This one is showing us a collage of money and jewelry. We can see that the time on the watch is 7, 28 and also on the watch. It skips the number four, so we have three in the wrong place and then it goes straight to five. It’S interesting that the calculator reads one billion rather than one million, and there are some letters on this necklace reading, h-o-o yip ship and that’s all we’ve managed to pull out of this page.
As you will see, it’s just so hard to know what the puzzle even is that you’re meant to be solving. So next is page six, which is the games room. There’S a little more to work with. Here we have a bunch of games which are mostly all labeled, although some of them are spelled wrong. Is that a mistake?
Is that part of the puzzle? No idea? We have some dice down here with specific letters and numbers on them and a game. Labeled spiel123456. Although I don’t know of any game called spiel that looked like that and was around in the 80s, so maybe some board game experts can weigh in on this page, because I really don’t know what we’re meant to get out of it.
Alright, so page 7 is actually one of the more straightforward pages, because each speech bubble is a separate mini puzzle. If you follow me on instagram, you might recognize this first one, because we think it is a knitting pattern. I posted this on instagram a while ago, and i got so many messages explaining knitting terminology to me, but nobody could figure out an answer that we’re meant to get out of it. So this next one is a paragraph that we can’t really make sense out of. We had the idea that maybe some of the words are referencing other pages in the book, but then you know like what do you do with that?
Okay, but then this next one is probably the very first thing that we were actually able to solve. It is a word equation that breaks down into a million dollars and my sister solved that one real quick. Next we have some rebuses and we solved some of them. Some of them we haven’t gotten. Then we have a simple substitution puzzle.
Um again it references a million dollars. My sister solved that one really quick and then finally, we have some more rebuses um. We solved some of them, but again not all of them. Next, on page 8, we have the bus station. There’s a little bit of text throughout this page, but no obvious puzzles. So I really don’t know what we’re meant to get out of this page.
So here, on page nine, we have a nice little garden scene with a picnic basket and a fruit basket and a pig on a spit. There’s a lot less text, no real obvious clues. There are two clocks which read 1105 and 10 15
It looks like we have two people kind of peeking over the fence, or at least one guy with really big eyes, and then what looks like a top hat? And there are wine bottles, labeled, pouilly fume, which is a real wine. There are also wine glasses kind of hidden throughout the image, but that’s about all that we’ve managed to pull out of this page, okay, so pages 10 and 11. I’M going to look at them together because it is one scene that has been cut in half with this jigsaw puzzle pattern.
I tried putting them back together in photoshop, but i didn’t see anything new, so we have some weird symbols on the suitcase. We also have a backgammon game which maybe could be referencing back to the games page and, as i talked about before, on page 11, we have that card game, which is where we’re meant to begin. But again I don’t know what to pull from it. There’S also a woman holding a book called the tamer of the flamer which we googled, but nothing came up. Oh and of course we have these crossword puzzle clues, but i’m going to talk about those later.
This next page is probably the biggest mystery of all because there’s no text all we have are these illustrations of birds. We managed to name some of them to figure out what types of birds they are, but then you know what do you do with that? No idea moving right along on page 13, we have a car and a guy doing a little painting. There is a little bit of text, but nothing that points to a puzzle, and the only interesting thing that I saw on this page is this castle. That is upside down in the sky for some reason.
Next, on page 14, we have a woman walking her dogs in the park and there seem to be weather symbols on this page. There are two maps of Florida with a hurricane and then maybe a thunderstorm. I looked up hurricane names that hit Florida in the 80s, but nothing stood out to me. So I don’t know, there’s also a no dogs sign at the bottom, which is kind of funny, because she’s obviously walking two dogs, but that’s all I’ve got from that page. All right so next is page 15, and if we go by the poster, this is the page to start on.
This could also be what the poem is referencing, because it says, find the place one did play and this image is of a playroom. So we have an equation under the easel and when you plug in the numbers you get negative three and nine. There are also a lot of other numbers and letters hidden throughout this image. There’S a xylophone with the notes: labeled, 1, 2, 3, 4 abc and there’s a music note with the dots on the a and the d lines. I don’t know enough about sheet music and music notes to figure out.
If there’s anything we’re meant to get from that, I have spent so much time looking at this page, because there are so many little numbers and words there are even constellations up top and I just don’t know I don’t know. So next, on page 16, we have the workout room. There are actually a few little rebuses hidden throughout this image, so we have solved it. Some of them are just there for fun? Are you meant to do something with the phrases I don’t know?
There’S also this graphic, which corresponds the days of the week to numbers, but don’t know what to do with that either and you can see a little bit of a calculator poking out from behind the snow boots, which seems a little out of place. So next, on page 17, we have this fancy living room. You can see down at the bottom. The newspaper says news pants. For some reason.
I looked closely at all of the paintings, but nothing really seemed to stand out, except that one of them is labeled with art. Don’T know why next is page 18.
This is the food room and we’re back to having a few more obvious puzzles, so we have a mini crossword and it’s actually pretty difficult, because the answers don’t cross each other that much so even my mom, who is the crossword puzzle expert? Even though she couldn’t finish filling in , next we have some rebuses and I think this one means chief of staff, but I don’t know what the rest of it means so feel free to work on that yourself. Next, we have the word head written vertically in the three columns.
Don’T know what that means on the wall. We’Ve got a scattering of letters underneath that on the baseboard we have what looks like braille and when we translated it, we got staff s 5, something f and then underneath that are another batch of symbols and finally, over on the milk carton, we have another little Rebus, which we think means staying on track, so there’s a lot to work through on this page. I think a lot of this is definitely solvable, but that’s just as far as we’ve gotten. Next, on page 19, we have a bedroom scene, so here on top of the bedpost, if we turn that upside down, it could be a rebus for broken up, but that’s all we’ve managed to pull there. Aren’T any really obvious puzzles on this page all right.
Let’S pick up the pace a little, because on pages 20 and 21 we haven’t found any obvious puzzles and both of these pages have totally stumped us. We’ve got this car garage scene and a bus stop scene, no idea what to get from either of those. Next, We have another split page with you know the same scene that split up across 22 and 23
This is a horse show scene and the stanchions at the bottom have some roman numerals on them, but that’s really all that we managed to pull off of this page okay. Next, on page 24, this page is called How to bowl correctly, and it is literally a tutorial for 5-pin bowling. We’re also given a decoder which should come in useful, but I don’t know what to do with it.
These little diagrams are actual maneuvers in point bowling, but when we plug in the point value into the decoder, we just get nonsense. So if anyone wants to do a deep dive into five pin bowling and see what you can pull out of this page, please be our guest all right. So next, on page 25, we have finally made it to the crossword puzzle, an actual solvable puzzle. It’s a miracle. It’S amazing, so you’re going to use the clues from pages 10, 11, 22 and 23, and this is completely solvable.
My mom and my sister each solved it independently of each other. There are actually a lot of clues about broadway, which my mom and my sister, both love, so this puzzle was really fun for them, plus now that we have the internet, it is easy enough to look up outdated clues and actually be able to move forward on The puzzle, so i’m going to have the answer key to the crossword puzzle down in the description, but if you want to solve it yourself um, you know i’m not going to put it here in the video but back to the full puzzle. Even though the crossword is solvable, it really doesn’t help us get any closer to the final answer. We noticed that the crossword grid is in the shape of a top hat, which is the answer to 143 across, but that’s all that we’ve managed to pull off of this page all right. Next, we’ve got page 26, which is a party scene, but without any obvious puzzles, then on page 27 we have a music room and there’s a lot of text here, there’s a lot going on, but nothing that directly leads to a puzzle.
There does seem to be some sort of input on this computer screen, but I don’t know what to put there. There’S also some music notes, uh, similar to what we saw in the playroom. But I just don’t know enough about sheet music to know. If we can pull anything from that or if it’s just meant to take up space in the background – and it is interesting that, even though this is a music room, there is a microscope and a telescope showing an airplane. The airplane is going to be fairly important, so i will get back to that later and finally, the very last puzzle, page page 28,
This one shows a man in his office. There’s a lot of text here.
We have all of these books where volumes 1 and 8 are taken away and replaced with dictionaries. Also, volumes 19 and 22 are swapped. This book in front has some funky text on it, but I don’t know what to do with all of the paintings. This time they have prices on them. Also, we have a ton of books in the background and they seem to be played on.
Like actual book titles, so here is a list of all of those titles and that’s it for the puzzle pages. All that’s left are the entry slips where you register, and then you send in your answer. These are perforated so that you can easily pull them out of the book and then on the back. We have this player’s log. It’S interesting that they’re already planning on you having to guess three times before you figure out the answer. Also my family and I have definitely worked on this for more than six days on the back cover.
We just have an image of the box design and that’s it for the puzzle: book [, Music ], oh man. That was a lot, but now I want to actually go back through the book and just call your attention to a few design elements that were duplicated through multiple pages. I started noticing these and I thought that maybe they could be clues. So what I did was I photocopied the entire book. I laid them all out on my dining room table so that I could see everything at once and then I went in with colored markers and I circled anything that I saw more than once. Okay, so the thing that I’ve spotted the most is this bell, which shows up in full on page 26, where it’s upside down with the same ribbon.
Also, the same lines show up on page nine. The bell itself is tucked in next to the bed, and also the stripe is on the vase on page 19 and the ribbon, and the lines show up again on page 18.
So do you remember when we were directed to look at the cards on page 11? Well, the hand holding the cards shows up again on page 26, tucked into this lady’s dress. Now, if we look at this large phone on page 27, the same phone cord shows up at the bottom of page 17 and on the same page, the phone earpiece is at the back of the chair.
So before I mentioned this book called the tamer of the flamer on page 11, it doesn’t seem to be a real book, but those same words show up in one of the revisions on page seven. We were thinking it might mean something like come under fire, but we couldn’t quite get that one all the way figured out so next, on pages 10 and 28, we see these symbols, which could be communicating something. Are they just decorative? No idea? We also have this decorative gate design, which shows up on pages 19 and 20.
This one, I kind of can’t believe I spotted they actually used the same cloud on pages 14 and 17 and it was cut out of the bushes on page 20.
So this is interesting. The upside down house in the sky from page 13 also shows up in one of the paintings on page 17, and then the same clown shows up on pages 15 and 19. and then still on page 15. These constellations that I pointed out before also show up on page 27.
all right, so those were all of the duplicates that i noticed for some of them like the gate, it seems like they maybe just reused the same drawing to save time because it works in Both places, but some of them just seem totally random like. Why is the phone duplicated? Why is there a random handful of cards? Why is the bell motif used so many times it seems like there should be some sort of meaning that we can pull from. All of that, but on the other hand, this was made in the 80s and it seems like it was hand-drawn and literally cut and pasted together.
So maybe they just wanted to reuse elements to sort of fill out the colleges and not have to draw all new drawings for every single page. You know it doesn’t have to mean anything, that’s definitely still a possibility. And finally, the last thing that we haven’t looked at yet is this color illustration, which is on the front of the book as well as the jigsaw puzzle. There are a few parts of this illustration that are exact matches for illustrations in the book, but then there are also a lot of elements that are either close, but not exact or that don’t show up at all in the book. I tend to think this.
Isn’T a clue towards the final answer, because it’s really just taking a lot of the imagery from the book like a lot of the themes and compiling them into one collage. You know, which is kind of giving an overview of what’s to come, but I don’t know. Maybe there is something hidden in there and I just haven’t spotted it. So unfortunately, this puzzle got bogged down in a ton of legal difficulties which I’m going to get into in the next section. What that meant is that nobody won the million dollars and the answer was never revealed until now.
Oh twists turns that you didn’t see that coming okay well sort of, let me explain what happened so i found a few articles talking about this puzzle where they say that it was created by john poser, so i did a little googling. I couldn’t find any contact info for him, but I did find his son’s email address, so I sent his son an email and he actually got back to me. Unfortunately, though, he told me that his dad john poser passed away in 1999. So obviously we can’t talk directly to him, and I just want to note here: please do not try to contact his son or his family yourself. John Poser had two sons. um, their names are out there, but I’m not gon na say them in this video.
I’Ve already emailed both of them and they’ve told me what they know. So please do not bother them yourself. So, okay, when I heard back from one of the sons he said in his email, the solution had something to do with the plane that crashed into the Empire State Building back in 1945. Beyond that, i don’t know now, this is a karen puzzle exclusive. As far as I know, nobody has ever really done a deep dive into this puzzle before or contacted the creators to find out what they know.
So this is huge. It gives us something to start from somewhere to work backwards from. However, before I get too much further into it, I do want to caution you that, if you’re going to try to work on this yourself, don’t put too much stock into this lead. That one sentence is all that he could tell me. So you know not a lot to go on, but okay, let’s say that he is correct. The event that he’s talking about happened on july 28th, 1945 when an airplane crashed into the empire state building, this wasn’t an attack or anything.
It was truly an accident because the plane was flying through really thick fog and they just didn’t see the building. The plane was piloted by william f smith jr, and here is what the plane looked like at 9: 40 a.m. It crashed into the north side of the empire state building between the 78th and the 80th floors, 14 people were killed and an elevator operator named Betty lou. Oliver fell 75 floors in an elevator, but she survived so of course, after getting this tip my sister and i did a bunch of research on this event, we pulled up anything that had a number attached to it, hoping that maybe some of the numbers or the Imagery would correspond to some of the things that we found in the book, but unfortunately, nothing really matched up.
So the poem from the jigsaw puzzle does seem like it could be referencing this plane crash, but there’s really nothing specific to tie them together. The connections are really vague, [, Music ], so I did notice, though, on page 27, we do have a telescope with an image of a head-on plane. Also in the cover illustration, there is a plane that sort of looks like the b-25, but it’s not an exact match. So like shore, there are little bits and pieces that maybe could fit, but there’s really nothing substantial. Also, the whole point of the scavenger hunt was to come up with a place as your final answer, not an event.
So was the final answer: empire state building, new york, united states, we just haven’t really been able to find any other clues. That would point in that direction, all right. It is a brand new day. We have a lot to get through in this section, because this puzzle went through a whole lot of legal troubles and I’m going to walk you through exactly what happened. So I want to give full credit for this section to my sister katie.
She did all of the research here digging into hundreds of pages of legal filings, trying to figure out exactly what happened and trying to see if there were any clues to the answer. In all of those legal filings, I also want to give the disclaimer that we are not lawyers. We are not giving legal advice um. We are just trying to summarize publicly available legal documents. Also, all of this takes place in Canada, so we are doubly not experts in Canadian law and then also I’m really not trying to broadcast anyone’s legal business from 35 years ago.
You know this is finished, it’s all in the past, but some of the people involved are still alive. So I’m going to be using a lot of student m’s in this story. I’M going to use John Poster’s name because his name and face were all over the marketing for this puzzle, but for everyone else, I feel like it’s best. If i don’t use their real names. You know I’ve already personally contacted everyone who I can find contact info for, so I just don’t want them getting bombarded with questions, so our timeline begins in 1983, when a man who I’m going to be calling, Mr. S, gets an idea for a game.
It’S going to be an armchair scavenger hunt with a series of graphic clues that lead to a final location in North America. All of the rules are essentially the same as this game that was eventually published. So now, let’s fast forward to october 1984,
This is when the first draft of a contract between worldwide trivia adventures and trivia games is signed now worldwide is mr s’s company and trivia games is john poser’s company. For some reason, this contract wasn’t actually signed until the following February, but it was backdated to october. So the whole situation is pretty confusing, but here’s what we think happened.
So it seems, like mr s, got the idea for a game. He decided to work with john poser and his company trivia games in order to manufacture and market this game. Trivia games was an already established game company. You know they had released games before so they knew how to get a product out there. So, Mr. S had the idea.
Poser’S company could actually make it a real product. So, okay, in February 1985, trivia games attended the New York games show where they showed a mock-up of the box for this game. This is an event: that’s attended by trade representatives, um, not consumers, and the box that they displayed is different from what would end up being the final box that was released. The trade representatives also saw a draft of some of the rules, but not all of them. So, from march to november, trivia games took orders for the game based on a one-page flier that didn’t have a ton of information about the game.
These were orders for retailers, um. It wasn’t being sold to individual consumers quite yet. This is where it starts. Getting juicy in November of 1985 worldwide sends trivia games a notice of termination. They said that trivia games failed to use the best efforts to manufacture, market and sell the game as extensively as possible in Canada and the us.
It also included a demand from Mr S for fifty thousand dollars within five business days. Now, as far as we can tell, this accusation seems pretty ungrounded because it seems like trivia games were getting the manufacturing and the marketing all in place a few days later. They responded to the notice saying that their manufacturing and marketing were at a critical stage and that this letter of termination jeopardized the entire project five days later. There’S a meeting, presumably between mr s and john poser also present, was the co-owner of trivia games, who i’m going to call michael, not his real name. There were no lawyers present, but Michael did tape record the meeting.
I only wish I could hear that tape recording so about a week later, trivia games wrote to worldwide saying they were terminating the contract because worldwide wouldn’t provide them with the solution. Now, let’s talk about Mr. S. He doesn’t seem like a great person. We looked into him. He seems very litigious filing a lot of lawsuits that don’t tend to go in his favor. He also allegedly made racist comments about first nations groups in Canada in a separate matter.
You know years later that had nothing to do with any of this, but it just kind of shows you the type of person that we’re dealing with. I have not found any contact info for him. I can only hope that if he is still alive that he doesn’t sue me for bringing all of this up again, like that’s a legitimate concern i had while i was working on all of this anyway, it seems like, for whatever reason, mr s was not happy With how trivia games was handling producing his product, so he tried to end the contract and get a payout of fifty thousand dollars, but keep in mind since he was the only one that had the solution to the game. It kind of seems like he was holding it ransom from trivia games because, like without a solution, they didn’t have a product that they could sell. But regardless, trivia games ended up ending the contract, saying that worldwide didn’t hold up to their end of the bargain, which was providing all of the components to the game, and so trivia games said that they could just end it and that they weren’t on the hook.
For any payout, so okay, mr s and trivia games, are going their separate ways. Five days later worldwide, which I remember, is Mr. S’s company files a trademark application for the million dollar hunt and about two weeks later worldwide demands that the rules and the prototype box are returned to them. So it seems like at this point, Mr. S is going to try to release it on his own, or at least he wants to make it harder for trivia games to release it, so we’re going to jump forward a month. This brings us to january of 1986
Trivia games files, a trademark application for the money hunt, reward one million dollars and a few days after that, there is an article in the province all about john poser and his upcoming game. The article mentions potential upcoming lawsuits, but poser seems pretty confident that he will be able to win them.
So now we jump forward to May of 1986, and this is when the first official legal case begins. The case basically sums up everything that I just talked about. We also learned that the original contract was really badly written and the filings for this case confirm that when Mr. S was unhappy with the production of his game, he did try to demand the 50 000 in exchange for the answer. So was he actually unhappy with the production, or did he just see an opportunity to make some money off of information that only he had? I don’t think we’ll ever really know.
However, this was not the method of termination laid out in the contract and since the contract was so unclear, the terms of property ownership really couldn’t be enforced plus, since the original game was never published, there was no trademark infringement and since mr s didn’t have the Means to produce the game himself, it didn’t actually hurt him when trivia games would go on to publish their own version. Basically, mr s has no case and trivia games are welcome to produce and market a similar puzzle game now. This next part is not entirely clear, but at some point in 1986, Mr. S decides to dress up in a gorilla suit and carry a sign alleging fraud against the third party company that was raising the million dollar prize. Like i mean this could be a movie, he is really not taking this well so may of 1986 is when the money hunt is officially released and people can start buying it now, here’s the thing it seems like this might have had to be a different version Of the game that mr s had originally designed, which could be why it feels so convoluted [, Music ], like maybe trivia, games, kind of ran with the concept, but had to come up with a different final answer. But then did they have to get new artwork done?
I couldn’t find any information on who actually did the illustrations so were they commissioned by mr s or by trivia games? If they came from mr s, did they all have to be redrawn? Did Mr. S draw them himself? The person who drew these must have known the answer right, or at least they had to have been given a list of clues that they had to include the turnaround time between november of 1985, when the contract was terminated and may of 1986. When the game was released to the public it was only about six months, so that’s a really short amount of time to have redone all of the artwork, although just in case anyone does go digging in one of the lawsuits.
There is an artist named. I was able to track him down because he’s now a professor at a Canadian art school. However, he told me that he was only brought in to design the exterior of the box and he didn’t even bother asking about the puzzle that was inside because he thought it seemed too complicated which, like it’s fair, so okay back to the timeline august of 1986, Is when the trademark for the money hunt reward? One million dollars is approved for trivia games a few weeks later, there’s an article in the vancouver sun, all about the game and a few weeks after that, the trademark for the million dollar hunt was rejected worldwide. Because of their lack of communication, it seems like after trivia games released this.
Mr. S didn’t bother releasing his version either because he didn’t have the means to manufacture it or because he didn’t think it would be worth releasing a similar puzzle game to one. That was already out there. So in october we have another newspaper article about the game, and this one is interesting because in the article they say that trivia games came up with the concept and then hired an inventor to finalize the clues. That’S not the story that we got from the legal filings, so who is this mysterious person? This secret person is mentioned in all four articles.
I found out about the game, but their identity was never revealed. I can only hope that this video makes its way to that person or somebody who knows that person, because I think that they could fill in a lot of the confusion. So if we jump forward to 87 and 88, mr s files more legal cases, there’s some stuff about him saying his original lawyer was incompetent. He didn’t want to pay. He also tries to add fraud and conspiracy charges, but the judge dismisses all of it.
So now we’ve arrived at March 31st 1988, and this is the original deadline in the rulebook for when people have to submit their answers before additional clues are released. However, it’s not clear if anyone ever looked at the answers that were submitted and no additional clues were ever released. No winner was announced, and the answer was also never announced, so a few months later in June of 1988 is when the original lawsuit that I talked about before is ultimately decided throughout the entire duration of the original gameplay. The legal rights to this game were up in the air, so okay new character alert. He didn’t really come into play until now, but there was actually a co-founder worldwide, along with Mr. S. I’m going to call this co-founder Timothy again, not his real name.
So, in the spring of 1988, worldwide sued timothy for misappropriating gemstones that belonged to worldwide. Again this whole gemstone thing is really confusing. We think that maybe the gemstones were meant to be part of the original prize package or maybe we’re meant to be sold to fund the original prize package, but it is very unclear who owns them. What part they had to play in any of this regardless. Mr. S had a falling out with his co-founder around November of 89.
Mr. S appeals the original lawsuit, but it is denied, and then he puts on the gorilla suit again and he pickets trivia games lawyers. They have to get an injunction to get him to stop what is going on. So now we are up to June of 91. The legal issues surrounding this game have now dragged on for over five years. At this point, Timothy and worldwide, a settlement where Timothy pays worldwide – thirty thousand dollars, so you know either he was in the wrong with the gemstones or he just paid the money to make the whole thing go away.
So in october of 91, mr s registered the isbn for a book which is presumably about this game. However, it doesn’t seem like that book was ever published, which is too bad, because, after all, the digging into all of this that we’ve done. I’D really like to hear his side of the story anyway. Over 92 and 93 worldwide keep trying to appeal and allege that fraud took place. They keep saying that some documents weren’t produced until after the original lawsuit was decided, but they keep losing their appeals also in February of 92, that’s when trivia games trademark on the money hunt reward 1 million dollars expires, so they are officially done with this game.
In September of 94, yet another lawsuit was heard of mr s still alleging that certain documents weren’t produced in previous hearings. However, he had outstanding deaths. So basically the judge was like you need to pay your lawyers and you need to pay your court fees or else we can’t keep doing this. So again, the case was dismissed. He tried to appeal one more time in January of 96, but that one was dismissed as well and finally, that is where our timeline ends.
I am exhausted and I do not blame trivia games for wanting to be done with this game. After Mr. S kept them in court for 10 years, as we kept finding more and more documents, it was just wild how crazy and complicated this case ended. Up being i mean we have mr s dressing up in a gorilla suit and picketing lawyers. We have valuable gemstones being argued over. One person involved ended up being named in a Nicaraguan hemp farm raid.
I threw my phone across the room when I heard this in another email. John Poser’s son told me that at one point, Mr. S allegedly tried to fake his own death, something to do with the bc fairies. I did a lot of googling. I couldn’t find any more information, but I mean this legitimately could be a movie and there’s even so much more that I didn’t even get into here, because it’s not directly related to the game, but yeah. This whole case is so complicated.
So with us digging up all of these old documents and organizing everything and there being 10 years of legal filings. Obviously there were a lot of different people related to the case, a lot of lawyers. So when we were deep into research mode, I reached out to anyone that I could find contact info for to see if they could help fill in the gaps. I already talked about how I heard back from john piper’s son, who gave us the tip about the empire state building and mr s faking his own death. I also emailed his brother poser’s other son, but he couldn’t give me any information.
Next, as i said, i emailed the artist who was named in one of the documents he didn’t really have anything to add, although he thought that the serial numbers on the box design might be a clue, it might be related to the answer. I guess there are dollar bills on the old box design, so maybe those are the serial numbers that he’s talking about, but that design element was not included on the final box design that was released. He told me that he did work on both versions of the box design, but he didn’t have any other information to add next. This is interesting. I emailed timothy again, not his real name.
Remember he was the co-founder of worldwide, along with mr s. They had that whole battle over the gemstones. However, after I outlined the general points about the game and asked if he wanted to comment on it, he replied saying he has no information and the game was developed long after he had any involvement which, like does not seem to be true. This is very fishy, but again i do want to be respectful if he just doesn’t want to drag all of this back up next one of the lawyers from trivia games got back to me saying he remembered it saying it was a very peculiar case, but he Said he was only a junior lawyer at the time it doesn’t seem like he was that heavily involved. And finally there is another lawyer for trivia games who I reached out to, but he did not get back to me.
So one thing that I haven’t really gone over yet is where the prize money came from, because a million dollars is a lot of money. There are a few articles that talk about it and basically poser decided to work with an oil company called rush ventures in order to fund the project. Rush went public on the vancouver stock exchange after poser’s company invested 000 in them for the initial development costs of the game, then rush was on the hook to raise 562 000 to have enough money for the prize. They also worked with the accounting firm Touche ross. Basically, they would hold on to the money and be responsible for paying it out 50 000 a year for 20 years and there’s a letter from them explaining all of this on the back of the box, so Poser planned on selling 300 000 copies of this game.
At 20, each would make him six million dollars. Obviously, that would be more than enough for the prize money and then his company and rush ventures would split the profit, but it was never reported how many copies of the game they actually sold and whether or not they made back their investment. So I just have to wonder if, in addition to all of the lawsuits, if this very complicated monetary arrangement also led to the game kind of fizzling out and the prize not being paid like, I really don’t understand why they had to work with an oil company. Maybe if anyone out there knows about any other similar business deals that have happened, you can explain like where that came from. I really don’t get it, however, back to the prize money, I would like to note that I do have two sources who were pretty close to the game, thinking that there were winners named, or at least people who incorrectly claimed to be winners.
However, I haven’t been able to find any official sources to back up these stories, so I really don’t know so that was a lot. Where do we go from here? I would love it if we could renew interest in this puzzle and sort of crowdsource solving it, because I really want to know the answer I was thinking. Maybe a subreddit could be set up or a facebook group. I unfortunately am way too busy to take that on that myself, but if anyone out there is looking for a new project and wants to be the group leader, please let me know if you set anything like that up down in the description i’m going to have Scans of every part of this puzzle, as well as all of our notes, so you can print everything out for yourself and see what you come up with.
If you do decide to work on it, please keep me in the loop if you make any real headway. So thinking about what to look for one of the legal documents. Does reference 24 clues hidden throughout the artwork and there are 24 separate illustrations, so does that mean that there’s one clue per page but then in the instructions they say that there could be more than one clue per page, so does that mean that some pages have No clues at all, maybe the crossword puzzle is just a crossword puzzle. Maybe it’s not a clue that would open one of them up and maybe the spreads just have one clue between them, which would open up another two, but going back to the poster. It does seem like we’re meant to pull one thing from each page and then the poster is telling us what order to put them in.
I was thinking about empire state building. Usa is 24 letters, so maybe those are the letters that we’re meant to get from each page. I just haven’t been able to. You know, figure out a direct way to get to those letters from any of the pages and it’s just so unclear what we’re meant to end up with, you know. Maybe it is one letter from each page, or maybe it’s a word or maybe it’s a number and we’re meant to be creating like coordinates of some sort.
If you’re going to be working on this, you might want to look into the masquerade puzzle because poser does reference it. So clearly the creators of this puzzle were aware of and inspired by that puzzle in that one. The solution is that you have to draw a line from the eyes of each character through their longest finger or toe, which then points to a letter around the border. To spell a phrase which led to the final location, so maybe we’re supposed to do something: physical, like that, like drawing a line over certain parts of these illustrations. It’S just that the illustrations in this book are all so different from each other that it’s hard to find a common denominator between them so have fun at it. Have fun.
Let me know if you figure it out. I was actually telling a friend of mine about this, and she said that it sounded exactly like the plot of ready player one. You know, there’s a game from the 80s, with a creator who has passed away and a treasure at the end. So if you’ve ever wanted your own ready player, one or masquerade type of quest, I’ve got it for you right here. So let me know in the comments if you were around during the 80s and if you had this, if you remember trying to solve this, if you make any more progress than my sister and i did feel free to leave a comment down below or send me An email and if you were involved in creating this game or if you were around in the canadian board game scene in the mid-80s – and you know anyone who might be able to fill in some of the gaps please get in touch.
So if you’ve watched all the way to the end of what is probably my longest video, yet your code word for the comments will be rewarded. If you decide to take this on. All I can say is good luck.