Meet Edward Jones, the man who turned a nickel and dime numbers game into a multimillion dollar enterprise that ultimately became the state lottery



KING OF KINGS takes an in-depth look at the life and legacy of Edward Jones, an African American who rose to the heights of financial and political prominence in post-Depression-era Chicago. In shaping the destiny of a city, he could not however escape his skin color. In conflict with both the mob and the Feds, he was forced into a life on the run. 

As his granddaughter, I’ll uncover the lasting repercussions of his untold story, not only within my family, but also for Chicago’s South Side where he once embodied the American dream.

Edward Jones

You’ve probably never heard of Edward Jones; believe me, you’re not alone. His story has been buried, we will do him justice and bring it to light. 

Exploring the rise and fall of the most famous “Policy King” of all times, I uncovered an unparalleled story, providing indispensable insight into America’s ceaseless, divisive relationship with race and community.

Love, glory, violence, exile, success, revenge, mafia, murder, betrayal, prison, kidnapping… Edward Jones’s story holds all the ingredients of the best gangster movies, films noir and great Hollywood frescoes. Add segregation and injustice, and we have a very explosive cocktail!

Partner with us to unveil the missing link between Policy and the State Lottery

You’ve probably never heard of the word policy either, but chances are that you’ve played at least once in your life the state lottery. Policy, also known as the numbers game, was an illegal game controlled by African Americans, the so-called Policy Kings, in the first half of the century. In this documentary, you’ll find out why they could never get it legalized and what happened afterwards...

Discover a descendant of slaves who became one of the richest men in America in the 30s at a time when discrimination was institutionalized

In every family, there are secrets and legends. In my family, it’s my grandfather. Both an outlaw and a philanthropist, Edward Jones was admired by many and feared by some. This documentary will primarily focus on him, but we will also meet his descendants, scattered around the world, who carry the weight of this hidden story within them.

Providing us with great insight as to how an unknown historical figure has impacted in more ways than one the trajectory of a family and a nation, this film will show how this man once gave hope to a whole generation of African Americans before falling, or more accurately being pushed into oblivion.
Mississippi 1907 : Reverend Edward Perry Jones, his wife Harriet and their three sons, Edward, George and Mack

How racism turned a black entrepreneur into an outlaw and a hero

Born in Mississippi, Edward Jones and his family left the South after receiving threats from the Ku Klux Klan. They established themselves in Chicago. 

During that era, racism was rampant even in the North and African Americans had to endure the “One Drop Rule” which stole many of their rights and economic opportunities. As a result, my grandfather pursued a color bearing no discrimination: green, the color of money. 

In a just a few years, he led himself and his two brothers to phenomenal success thanks to the Policy business, amassing around 25 million dollars, 400 million dollars in today’s currency.

Known as the most famous Policy king of all times, Edward Jones built an empire that employed thousands of people. However, in the early ’40s, his luck began to change when the government began taking a real interest in his affairs. Edward Jones’s race and power made him controversial outside his community and many would not stand for an African American with such power to continue to prosper.

Charged with tax evasion, he was thrown in jail for two years where his encounter with Italian mobster Sam Giancana would mark the beginning of the end, but before everything crumbled, he had set an example.

Dive into history through the prism of an astounding man
living in extraordinary times

Through Edward Jones’ journey, we will plunge into key historical events that marked the 20th century, such as the Great Migration, segregation, the Prohibition, the Great Depression, the rise of the mafia, the emancipation of the African American community and the rise of the Democratic Party in Chicago to which my grandfather contributed greatly.

This film is more than a biopic on Edward Jones, it is a quest for truth.

Get the inside story told in intricate detail by his granddaughter

The life of Edward Jones is worthy of a great Hollywood movie. The fact that he is my grandfather makes the challenge even more exciting for the filmmaker that I am. Throughout the years, I have accumulated countless anecdotes, newspaper clips, interviews and documents retracing his private life.

Despite extreme economic hardship and a time when it was once assumed that a black person could never be equal to a white, no matter how rich, successful or accomplished he was, Edward Jones managed to overcome adversity with panache. Some will discredit him as being just another gangster in his time, but I discovered that he was much more than that. He invested back into his community, creating thousands of jobs, donating money to hospitals and schools, giving members of his community the chance to study and start their own businesses.

Being a member of his family, I will delve into both his successes and his failures that made him such a fascinating and emblematic man of his time. 

Preacher’s son. Gangster. Policy King. Community leader. Philanthropist. Husband. Father. Grandfather. Edward Jones.


Some of the people you’ll see in the documentary :

Quincy Jones
Record producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, arranger, film and television producer who grew up in Chicago’s South Side and who met Edward Jones on various occasions as his father worked as a carpenter for the Jones.
Harriet Jones
Daughter of Lydia and Edward Jones, retired professor of philosophy and religion, Florida International University. She lives in Miami.
Nathan Thompson
Social scientist, but also journalist and musician, unbeatable on the history of the Policy Kings, and the Bronzeville district, of which he knows every corner, he is the author of Kings —The True Story of Chicago's Policy Kings and Numbers Racketeers.
Robert Lombardo
An Emeritus Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Dr. Robert Lombardo, PhD, a sociologist, has written among other books « Organized crime : Causes and Consequences ,» « Organized Crime in Chicago : Beyond the Mafia ,» « The Black Hand : Terror by Letter in Chicago .» He is a 33-year police veteran, having served 28 years with the Chicago Police Department.
Timuel Black
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, on December 7, 1918, he grew up in the neighborhood of Bronzeville, where he rubbed shoulders with the Jones brothers. Educator, Professor and community leader, he has spent his life promoting the cause of social justice. A pioneer of the independent black political movement, he was close to Martin Luther King and the Obama’s. He very recently passed away at over 100 years old.
Nicholas Ford
Cook County Judge, Nicholas Ford worked in the same court where Edward Jones was sentenced before being sent to the penitentiary . Former assistant Cook County State’s Attorney, Criminal Judge Nicholas Ford has recently retired.
Sylvie Laurent
Sylvie Laurent is an Americanist, professor of History and Doctor of American litterature, researcher at Harvard and Stanford University, she teaches at Sciences-Po, Paris. His first book "Homérique Amérique" was published at Le Seuil in 2008 and "Poor white trash, the odious poverty of the American white" was published in December 2011 by the Presses de la Sorbonne. In 2015, she has written a biography on Martin Luther King and other books.
Robert Sengstacke
The nephew of Robert Abbott, founder of The Chicago Defender considered the most important paper of what was then known as the Negro press; and many others. He was an important photographer. He recently passed away.
Johanna Marin Coles
Granddaughter of Edward Jones. Writer of half a dozen books, mother of 3, she lives in Miami with her husband.
Harry Mays
Retired Chicago cop and the nephew of one of the most important Policy King, close friend to Edward Jones.
Thalia Ross
Great granddaughter of Edward Jones. Doing her master. She studies at USC, University of the Sunshine Coast, she lives in Australia.
Danaé Capdevielle
Great-granddaughter of Edward Jones: She lives in Paris and is the worldwide client director at Saint-Laurent.
Tallal Shakarshi
Great-grandson of Edward Jones. He lives in Chicago and is Vice President of Development at LHP Capital.
And Many Others...

The Team

Harriet Marin is a multinational writer and director who speaks French, English and Spanish. After studying at Loyola University in Chicago and American University in DC where she received a BA in visual media and was voted best student in the department, she got her Masters in Cinema Studies at New York University. During her studies, she wrote and directed ten short films that won numerous awards. She started her career as an assistant director on feature films in the US and France, and began simultaneously evaluating scripts for major broadcasters in France, while writing and directing two high budget short films, followed by her first feature film Epouse-Moi, distributed by Gaumont. Through the years, she has worked on various scripts, directed a play by Ray Cooney, Impair et Pair, and co-produced and directed Elle est Lui, the pilot for a shortcom for France 2. In 2008, she started her own film and TV company. While raising her two children, she has also written two novels, Très à l’Ouest d’Eden and Pardon, and has traveled to over 100 countries. King of kings is her first documentary.
Quincy Jones Jr. is an American record producer, musician, songwriter, composer, arranger, and film and television producer. His career spans 70 years in the entertainment industry with a record of 80 Grammy Award nominations, 28 Grammys, and a Grammy Legend Award.
Debbie Allen is an award-winning director and choreographer. She has choreographed the Academy Awards a record ten times and directed and choreographed for legendary artists including Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, etc. Ms. Allen received the Golden Globe for her role as Lydia Grant in the 1980s hit series Fame and is a three-time Emmy Award winner in Choreography. She has been honored with ten Image Awards as director, actress, choreographer and producer for numerous projects and currently serves as Executive Producing Director of Grey’s Anatomy, where she also holds a recurring role as Catherine Fox.
Michel Fessler – Consultant / Co-Writer : Michel Fessler has signed over 30 feature films as either a writer or a co-writer. Three of the films to which he contributed were nominated for Oscars - Farinelli, Ridiculous and The March of the Penguins, which won the Oscar for best documentary.
Philippe Kelly studied guitar and piano in the Conservatory of Versailles. He signed his first record with POLYDOR in 1988. From then on, he composed for various singers and started composing music for ads and films. In 1993, he composed the soundtrack for the "Classe mannequin" series, whose song "Essaye d'imaginer" was number 1 in the top 50. In 2000, Philippe recorded two concept albums entirely acappella. A large number of French artists took part in this adventure. Since then, he has devoted himself solely to music for the image, composing the music of many films and TV Series, like the very successful "Fais pas ci Fais pas ça" for France 2. Among other films, he distinguished himself in 2017 at the cinema with "Monsieur et Madame Adelman" directed by Nicolas Bedos and more recently with "Menteur" by Olivier Barroux. Today, Philippe composes for cinema as much as for television.
Giles Gardner has over 20 years of experience working in fiction and documentary post production. Recent documentary work includes: ‘Inna de Yard’ by Peter Webber (Tribeca / IDFA); ‘Winnie’ by Pascale Lamche (Sundance World documentary prize); ‘A Thousand Girls Like Me’ by Sahra Mani (Hotdocs / Full Frame, best doc award). Regularly participating as an editing tutor at CloseUp and Dok Incubator, he lives in Paris with dual British / French nationality.
Emmanuel Guimier – Director of photography : Cameraman, photographer, also known for the Making of he makes on series and features films for Netflix, Gaumont, Pathé, etc.
Christian Volckman - Storyboard Artist and Illustrator : Director and painter, Christian Volckman graduated from the Ecole Supérieur d’Arts Graphiques in Paris. He is mainly known for his motion capture animation feature film Renaissance, his other feature The room, as well as his short animated film Maaz who won 30 prizes.
Séverine Cappa – Line producer : For over 20 years, Severine Cappa has worked on many documentaries produced by companies like Gedeon Programmes, Studio FTV, La compagnie des Taxi-Broussse, Harbor Films and many others.


Between October 2022 and April 2023, KING OF KINGS took part in eight festivals. The film won a prize at six of the festivals and finished as a finalist at the last two:

- The Chicago Award at the 58th Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF)

- The Audience Award at the 22nd Anchorage International Film Festival (AIFF)

- The Best Documentary Feature at the 31st Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Los Angeles

- The Audience Choice Award at the 23rd Beverly Hills Film Festival (BHFF)

- The Best Foreign Documentary at the 31st Arizona International Film Festival (AIFF)

- Finalist at the 11th Julien Dubuque International Film Festival (JDIFF)

- Finalist at the 56th WorldFest Houston International Film Festival

- The Best International Documentary Feature at the 11th Los Angeles Theatrical Release Competition & Awards (LATCA)


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