What's the meaning behind 253.55 on Inside Man? An explainer

In the first few minutes of the first episode of Inside Man, folks are introduced to mysterious number 253.55. Here is the meaning of it

Jefferson Grieff (STANLEY TUCCI)
(Image credit: BBC/Hartswood/Kevin Baker)

By now, you’re probably all caught up with the four episodes that make up the addicting new Stanley Tucci-led drama Inside Man, which you can stream on Netflix.

From why did Grieff kill his wife to the Inside Man ending explained, folks have a lot to say about the series, which stars Stanley as Jefferson Grieff, a prisoner on death row in the United States who is a former criminology professor and still takes on cases while in prison as long as they are of moral worth.

In the first few minutes of the first episode of the series, audience members are introduced to the number 253.55 - but it hasn’t been clear to many what the meaning behind the figure is.

As a refresher, the number has to do with the first case that we see Jefferson take on, this one involving Senator Claude Kreiner, who has recently been accused of sexually assaulting women thirty years prior.

Beth Davenport (LYDIA WEST)

(Image credit: BBC/Hartswood/Kevin Baker)

After denying the sexual assault accusations and telling the prisoner that one of the three women who accused him, Celina, actually works in his office, Claude goes on to relate the reason why he has gone to meet with Jefferson.

Specifically, the senator explains that, a few days after each time he sleeps with his wife, a sum of $253.55 is deposited into his account from an anonymous source. 

After listening to his tale, Jefferson tells the politician that he won't take on the case - but he doesn't immediately explain his reasoning, a fact that confuses viewers.

What is the meaning of the number 253.55 on Inside Man?

Later on in the first episode, Jefferson's inmate Dillan, who has heard the senator's story as he assists his fellow prisoner given his photographic memory, asks the former professor what he thinks the meaning of the sum $253.55 really is. Jefferson quickly explains his thought process before a warden interrupts their conversation.

The criminal expert suggests that Claude's wife had possibly befriended Celina three months prior, when she started working in her husband's office, right at the time when the cash started appearing in his account. 

Given their friendship, Jefferson supposes that Celina told her new pal about her husband’s rape-related activities. As a result, every time she has sex with her husband, Claude's wife feels repulsed but can't find the strength to talk about the issue with her spouse and so goes to see a therapist instead. 

Inside Man

(Image credit: Netflix)

Not being able to pay for each therapy session out of their couple's joint account (Claude would notice and ask his wife about it), Mrs Kreiner asks Celina to send the money to the doctor herself since she knows the whole story and the real reason why she's seeing a therapist in the first place. 

However, Jefferson supposes that, given her age and poor eyesight, Celina misreads Mrs. Kreiner's messages. Instead of reading "pay the therapist $253.55 cents," the assistant might actually be seeing, "pay the rapist $253.55 cents."

Sure, it’s a far-flung theory, but it’s certainly one that makes sense, especially after getting to know Jefferson’s incredible criminology-prone mind. 

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.