1,237 is the magic number of delegates needed to win the Republican nomination on the first ballot.

Many pundits believe if Donald Trump enters Cleveland short of that number, the establishment will swindle the nomination from him in a brokered convention.

But a jaw-dropping admission by a member of the RNC’s Rules Committee turned conventional wisdom on its head.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Randy Evans declared Trump could win the nomination, even if he heads into the Republican National Convention just short of the magic number.

Politico reports:

“If Donald Trump exceeds 1,100 votes, he will become the nominee, even though he may not have 1,237,” Georgia lawyer Randy Evans told MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

 But if the GOP presidential frontrunner doesn’t surpass the 1,000 delegate mark, Evans said it could lead to a days-long contested convention.

“And then in the middle there’s that gray area between 1,000 and 1,100, and that’s where the unbound delegates or the delegates that have been released by other candidates come into play to see if there are enough of those to get either [Ted] Cruz or Trump over the finish line,” he said.

This is possible because — while much has been made of how many ballots some delegates are pledged to vote for the winner of their statewide contests — there are also hundreds of unbound delegates who are free to vote for any candidate they choose.

In addition, John Kasich or Marco Rubio could release the 143 and 171 respective delegates pledged to them in exchange for a spot on the ticket.

So is reaching a total number of delegates short of 1,237 but within shouting distance to win with unbound delegates on the first ballot possible?

According to RealClearPolitics, Trump currently holds the delegate lead with 755.

The next primary on the calendar takes place in New York, where 95 delegates are at stake.

That state awards 14 delegates proportionally among the candidates, unless one wins 50% of the statewide vote.

New York also awards 71 delegates by Congressional district. The winner of each district takes two delegates, with the runner-up receiving one, unless one candidate reaches the 50% threshold in that district.

Currently, RealClearPolitics shows Trump leading New York with a 53.8% polling average.

The political handicappers at fivethirtyeight.com estimate this will win Trump 85 delegates.

On April 26th, a slew of states vote in the Northeast — Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Only one poll has been conducted in 2016 for Connecticut and the just released survey by Emerson College reveals Trump at 50%, with a 24 point lead over his closest competitor, Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Multiple polls have recently been released in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and the current RealClearPolitics average shows Trump with identical 15.8% leads in both states.

No polling has been conducted in either Delaware or Rhode Island, but given their proximity in location and demographic makeup to states Trump has won — New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the case of Connecticut  — or states he leads in the polls — Maryland and Pennsylvania in the case of Delaware — pundits expect him to carry both states.

In fact,  fivethirtyeight.com projects Trump to win a combined 177 delegates from New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

That would leave Trump with 932 delegates heading into the final primaries to be held in May and June.

Fivethiryeight.com ran the numbers all the way through the final primaries on June 7th and, based on current polling and probabilities, they project Trump will finish with either 1,155 or 1,159 delegates.

This would put him within range of winning the nomination on the first ballot, with the help of either the unbound delegates or another candidate like Kasich or Rubio releasing their delegates to him in exchange for a place on the ticket.

So can the author of “The Art of the Deal” close the biggest deal of his life?

If Trump fails to win 1,237 delegates before Cleveland, the political world will soon find out.