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A Right to Millions

How 4.75 million euros was snatched from Arrold's hands

By @peter_plasman

On 3 November 3 2013, an enormous number of viewers of Dutch television station RTL4's game show Miljoenenjacht (‘Hunting for Millions’) saw contestant Arrold van den Hurk press the red button accidentally. According to the notary, by doing so Arrold had accepted the bank's offer for the contents of his briefcase (number 17), thereby selling the contents of his briefcase to the bank. The bank's offer was for €125,000 and Arrold's briefcase contained a cheque made out for €5 million.
Click to play the clip (in Dutch)

It is perfectly clear that Arrold did indeed press the red button accidentally, and that he did not intend to accept the bank's offer.
RTL4 agrees.

“Arrold absolutely didn't want to stop, he wanted to keep playing!”
Source: RTL4

The show's host Linda de Mol was even more clear on this point, and she wanted Arrold to just keep on playing.

“Then we'll just act as if you hadn't done it.”
Source: RTL4

In the course of everyday life, many offers are made and accepted each day, for example when making purchases. A contract is formed when there is a so-called 'meeting of the minds', meaning that both parties want the same thing.
In the event that one of the parties does not wish to agree to the terms, then no contract exists. Because Arrold didn't want to accept the offer, no contract was formed between him and the bank.
Based on the rules of the game, the notary decided that Arrold had accepted the bank's offer and that the game had been ended by pressing the red button.
Viewers who used Twitter and Facebook to ask questions of Miljoenenjacht were told this as well, and were directed to take a look at the rules of the game for more information. The rules are listed in the FAQ section of the Miljoenenjacht.nl website.

Twitter
Twitter
Facebook
Facebook

Regarding the ending of the game these rules include the following:

The amount that the finalist has in his briefcase is the amount that he can win, unless he accepts an offer from the bank during the course of the game. In that event, he wins the amount offered by the bank. The finalist then has no further claim on the amount that is ultimately revealed to be in his briefcase. After some of the briefcases have been opened, the finalist will receive an offer from the bank to give up his briefcase in exchange for a particular amount. The finalist will have to weigh this up. If the finalist wants to accept the offer, he needs to press the 'red button', thereby ending the game. Will he make a DEAL with the bank and sell his briefcase? Or will he wait until more briefcases have been opened and there is more information about which amount might be in his briefcase?
Source: Miljoenenjacht

There is only one sentence that covers the question of when the bank's offer is accepted:

If the finalist wants to accept the offer, he needs to press the 'red button', thereby ending the game.

From this sentence, it follows that the game ends when the finalist has accepted the offer and presses the red button. Since Arrold has not accepted the offer, another one of the rules is important:

The amount that the finalist has in his briefcase is the amount that he can win, unless he accepts an offer from the bank during the course of the game.

So Arrold is still the owner of the contents of briefcase 17.

In addition, there has been cheating

The episode of Miljoenenjacht under discussion was recorded on 16 October 2013 and aired on 3 November 2013.
Research carried out via Internet Archive has shown that two days before the recording, on 14 October 2013, the game rules were not listed on the Miljoenenjacht website. After the taping on 16 October 2013, the rules were listed.

Before the taping
Before the taping
After the taping
After the taping

It would be interesting to know why the rules were only shown on the website after the taping on 16 October 2013.

On 17 September 2013, Arrold received his official Miljoenenjacht entry ticket from Endemol (the producer of Miljoenenjacht, acting partly on behalf of the Postcode Lottery). Arrold received a copy of the rules along with this ticket. These rules included the following:

The hostesses will open the briefcases indicated by the finalist. The finalist will see which amounts are no longer in the game. On a large scoreboard, the finalist is able to see which briefcases (and therefore which amounts) are left in the game and which amount might be in his briefcase.
The amount that the finalist has in his briefcase is the amount that he can win, unless he accepts an offer from the bank during the course of the game. In that event, he wins the amount offered by the bank. The finalist then has no further claim on the amount that is ultimately revealed to be in his briefcase. After some of the briefcases have been opened, the finalist will receive an offer from the bank to give up his briefcase in exchange for a considerable sum. The finalist will have to weigh this up. Will he make a DEAL with the bank and sell his briefcase? Or will he wait until more briefcases have been opened and there is more information about which amount might be in his briefcase?
Source: Miljoenenjacht

These were therefore the rules for the episode of Miljoenenjacht in which Arrold participated. The contract also makes it clear that these were the rules.

The Contestant hereby declares that he will acquaint himself with the rules of the Programme, which will be made available to the Contestant, and will agree to them unconditionally. The rules are indissolubly linked to this contract and the two parts together form a whole.

These rules were tampered with after the episode was taped

After the taping of 16 October 2013, the rules were changed.
The "old" rules and the "new" rules are identical, except for one thing. A crucial sentence has been added, namely, the sentence about the red button. In the "old" rules, the red button isn't mentioned.

Old rules

The amount that the finalist has in his briefcase is the amount that he can win, unless he accepts an offer from the bank during the course of the game. In that event, he wins the amount offered by the bank. The finalist then has no further claim on the amount that is ultimately revealed to be in his briefcase. After some of the briefcases have been opened, the finalist will receive an offer from the bank to give up his briefcase in exchange for a considerable sum. The finalist will have to weigh this up. Will he make a DEAL with the bank and sell his briefcase? Or will he wait until more briefcases have been opened and there is more information about which amount might be in his briefcase?

New rules

The amount that the finalist has in his briefcase is the amount that he can win, unless he accepts an offer from the bank during the course of the game. In that event, he wins the amount offered by the bank. The finalist then has no further claim on the amount that is ultimately revealed to be in his briefcase. After some of the briefcases have been opened, the finalist will receive an offer from the bank to give up his briefcase in exchange for a considerable sum. The finalist will have to weigh this up. If the finalist wants to accept the offer, he needs to press the 'red button', thereby ending the game. Will he make a DEAL with the bank and sell his briefcase? Or will he wait until more briefcases have been opened and there is more information about which amount might be in his briefcase?

In the "old" rules of the game the only mention of this point is that the finalist can win the amount that is in his briefcase, unless he accepts an offer from the bank during the course of the game.

During the taping of the show, the notary made the decision that "rules are rules" and that therefore the game had ended.

Click to play the clip (in Dutch)

The conclusion is that after the episode was taped, the rules were changed in order to bring them into line with the notary's decision to stop the game. And that people who ask questions are being misled because they are being directed to the "new" rules.

The rules of the game state that the game takes place under the supervision of a notary.

The game takes place under the supervision of a notary. Prior to the taping, the notary will go to a closed room and will arbitrarily place the amounts in the numbered briefcases, and then seal the briefcases.

Linda de Mol (the show’s presenter) has stated, and it also follows from the rules, that the notary is the only person who knows which amount is in which briefcase.
It is unbelievable that the only person who knew which amount was in Arrold's briefcase was the one who made the decision that the game was over.
The notary knew that his decision was in his client's interest, to the tune of €10 million; there was €5 million in briefcase 17 and the winner at home receives the same amount as the finalist.
The notary also knew that there was absolutely nothing in the rules about a red button.

Response from the Postcode Lottery

On 13 November 2013 I wrote to the Dutch National Postcode Lottery (Postcodeloterij):

Dear management of the Postcode Lottery,

I am acting for Mr A. van den Hurk of Son en Breugel in this matter. My client took part in the Miljoenenjacht programme, in the episode which was broadcast on 3 November 2013 on RTL4. My client is currently known across the country as the man who pressed the red button by accident. I assume that you are familiar with the course of events in the programme.

In the episode concerned, my client did indeed press the red button accidentally, and ultimately the notary for the programme decided that my client could not be allowed to go back on his mistake. My client believes that the aforementioned decision was incorrect; the notary should not have considered the moment that the red button was pressed to be the decisive one, but should have determined whether my client had accepted the offer made by the bank. It was obvious that my client did not intend to accept the offer, and this was also evident during the recording and clear to all involved.
Your organisation has stated that when the player wants to accept the offer, he should press on the red button and that this ends the game. As previously stated, my client never intended to accept the offer and he did not do so.

With this letter, I ask you to advise by return of post whether, in light of the above, you are prepared to discuss the issue with me in order to see whether the situation can be resolved by mutual agreement.

Finally, I would like to inform you that on 7 November 2013, my client's wife was approached by one of your staff members who advised her that she and my client would be wise not to speak to lawyers as this would be bad for their reputations. For the record, and for the sake of completeness, I must advise you that my client and his wife do not wish to be approached by or on behalf of you, other than through myself.

Yours sincerely,
J.P. Plasman

On 15 November 2013, the Postcode Lottery responded as follows:

Dear Mr Plasman,

We read your letter of 13 November 2013 with some surprise. Let me begin by saying that in our communications with your client, we have always stated that the decision of whether or not to engage a lawyer lies entirely with him, and that the contact between your client and the National Postcode Lottery has been initiated by your client. We have certainly not said that involving a lawyer would be bad for his reputation.

If your client believes that the decision made during the Miljoenenjacht programme, on whether or not to continue playing, was the wrong one, he will need to approach Endemol which is the producer of the programme. However, Endemol sent the rules of the game to your client in advance, and your client stated that he agreed with the rules. The rules were subsequently explained to him again during the game, and a round had already been played in which your client had absolutely no doubt over whether to close the cupboard or press the red button. It was therefore perfectly clear to him what was expected of him. Your client pressed very definitely on the button. Even if your client had truly made a mistake in the heat of the game, the fact would remain that this is all just part of the game.

The documentation which your client received prior to the programme also stated that the judge's decision is final. In this case the notary, as an independent third party, checked the rules of the game and judged that these state that the bank's offer had been accepted.

I am sorry to hear that your client is no longer satisfied with his prize of €125,000, but the National Postcode Lottery can only conclude that the game was played entirely properly and according to the rules.

In light of the above, it seems to me that there is little point in a discussion about this. All rights reserved without prejudice.

Sincerely, Martijn van Klaveren
Head of Legal Affairs
Postcode Lottery

The Postcode Lottery refers me to Endemol, while according to the contract Endemol acts partly on behalf of the Postcode Lottery, and the Postcode Lottery is therefore party to the agreement.

Signed in agreement:

Endemol Nederland B.V.
Acting partly on behalf of National Postcode Lottery N.V.

_____________________

Signature:

_____________________

The airy tone of the response is striking: it was just a game, a mistake like that is just part of the game.
But this is about a sum of €5 million in a game under the supervision of a notary and with actual game rules to which the contestant must sign his agreement. It wasn't for nothing that Linda de Mol stated on RTL Boulevard that the rules exist because so much money is involved.

"I thought: Show a bit of mercy and open that cupboard again, not realising that this has implications, with rules because so much money is involved."
Source: RTL4

But what is particularly striking about the Postcode Lottery's response is that they refer to the rules of the game – the "new" version. It is after all stated that the notary reviewed the rules and ruled that they provide that the bank's offer was accepted. The "old" rules include absolutely nothing about this, but the "new" rules of the game do, due to the addition of the sentence about the red button.
The response also states that in the documentation which was sent to Arrold, it was stated that the decision of the game's judge is final.
That is correct, but it refers to the Q&A section of the game.

Absolutely no discussion will be entered into regarding the questions and answers in Postcode Lottery Miljoenenjacht. The judge's decision is final.

The Postcode Lottery is apparently appointing the notary as judge.
It therefore follows that the notary, as an independent third party, oversees the game, know what's in the briefcase and makes binding decisions about whether or not the game is over. This is obviously not acceptable.

Article 17
1. The notary shall perform his duties independently and represent the interests of all parties involved in the matter in an impartial manner and with the utmost care.
2. The notary may not perform his duties in salaried employment or in any other context in which his independence or impartiality will be or can be influenced.
Source: Wet op het notarisambt (Dutch Notary Act)

And if the rules were so clear, why did they need to be changed later on?

The conclusion is that Arrold did not accept the bank's offer and that in that case, according to the rules, he won the amount in his briefcase

Arrold has a right to millions.