For the last two months, Matthew McLain has correctly guessed the closely-followed non-farm payrolls number.Each month, CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” holds a contest on Twitter called #NailTheNumber asking people to Tweet their monthly non-farm payrolls number guess.
We were able to speak with McLain over the phone on Thursday about his miraculous guessing abilities.
McLain, who won popular game show “Wheel of Fortune” in the 80s and competed twice on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (he said he didn’t make the hot seat with Regis and “bombed out early” with Meredith), said he really started trying getting his hand on the NFP number once the contest came into being.
“I pay more attention now than I used to,” he said.
He explained that the CNBC contest allows entrants to Tweet only one guess per day the week of the NFP number’s release.
McLain told Business Insider that he made four estimates last time and before that he nailed it with just one entry.
In this month’s contest, McLain said that he has picked 114K, 41K, 14K and 141K so far. He said that he will make his final guess tomorrow, but he’s keeping that number to himself right now.
“I base it on a combination of intuition and information,” he said, explaining, “The intuition is the 4 and the 1.”
He added that he looks at information such as the jobs report (initial jobless claims) that comes out the day before the NFP.
“Basically a lot of times the jobs report that precedes the NFP really gives some inclination with how it’s leaning,” he said explaining that number is what would basically skew it one way or the other for him.
After the initial jobless claims number came out last month before the NFP that’s when he decided to guess the winning 68K number.
“That’s when I took the 100K handle off. Initially I was thinking 168, but after that report came out that gave me the incentive,” he said, adding, “It’s fortunate the contest allows a few guesses.” So far, he’s won an autographed CNBC hat and autographed CNBC golf balls. Tomorrow’s prize is an autographed CNBC water bottle.
McLain said he’ll be playing golf with some friends when the number comes out tomorrow. (Check him out to the left on the course with his prize).
McLain, who has been trading around five to seven years now, told Business Insider that he started picking stocks when he was working as a counselor at a juvenile detention centre.
“I tried to show them there were better ways to make a little money out there other than crime. One thing I showed them was stock charts and that there was a way to make rapid money without doing anything illegal and immoral,” he said.
Meanwhile, McLain was also starting up a college fund for his son Tyler around that time.
He said the very first stock was a Texas company called Tyler Technologies (TYL) that he bought for a $1.98 a share in 2001.
“Now, although I have virtually no shares left, it’s in the $40 dollar range,” he said. “My very first investment was nice.”
McLain currently resides in Connecticut. He grew up in Pleasantville, New York and graduated from SUNY at Purchase with his B.S.A in acting.
For years out of college, he worked as an actor and was a member of the Stage Actors Union. He also plays the piano and composes his own music.