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How To Win McDonald’s Monopoly Game (2012)

This post covers the 2012 version of the McDonald’s Monopoly game. Here is the post covering the 2013 Edition of the McDonald’s Monopoly game [3].

Another year, another edition of the McDonald’s Monopoly game! This year the game will be starting two days earlier than last year, on September 18th, and will run until October 22nd. It marks the third year in a row that the game is starting a little sooner, though I suspect this one is the result more of the calendar than eagerness on the part of McDonald’s or Monopoly!

After looking over the rules and various promotional material, I’ve compiled a guide to help you win the McDonald’s Monopoly game for 2012. A lot of it depends on luck but hopefully with this information you can tease out a little tips and tricks that give you an extra edge. The prize pool appears to be a little bigger, since there are now TWO Boardwalks in the game, so it pays even more to pay attention and get that extra edge. So now when two people say they have the Boardwalk piece, it’s actually possible!

The game is simple and hasn’t changed. You get pieces from food, or mailing in, and you try to collect monopolies on the board. Each monopoly contains multiple pieces and usually only one of those is rare. In addition to the main game, there are instant and online ways to win food, prizes, and cash (it’s actually a check, but I doubt any winners are complaining). Collect the pieces, match up monopolies or strike it rich with an instant win or online code!

The online $20,000 online promotion starts today (September 18th) and ends on the 24th, but the full game, as is customary, won’t begin for another week (September 25th).

And we’re also getting in on the fun, we’ll be putting out some cool Monopoly game tools that’ll help track your odds. Keep an eye out for those!

2012 Rare Game Pieces & Prizes

In previous years, the game was set up so that there was one rare piece and the rest were common. They key was finding the “rarer” piece from each set. You knew this because the rules gave you the probabilities you’d get a certain piece and the last property alphabetically was the one with the lowest probability. The exception to that rule was Boardwalk. This year the rules are different, they tell you the probability of getting the monopoly, not any one piece. That said, I’d be surprised if their game piece production strategy were to change, it’s much easier to assign probabilities if you simply manage the rarity of one piece.

For 2012, there were some changes to the rarity, the number of prizes, and what the prizes were (odds are for collecting all the pieces, not the odds of getting the rare piece). For the history’s sake, I’ll list monopoly’s based on what used to be the confirmed rare piece:

The prize pool is richer this year and the odds of winning appear to have improved. The big change for this year is that there are now two potential Boardwalk winners. For as long as I’ve followed the McDonald’s Monopoly game there was only ever one winner.

Another quirk (and we confirmed this in the rules) is that the odds make it seem like it’s actually easier to win the top prize than it is to win some of the smaller ones. For example, the odds of getting Boardwalk and Park Place is 1 in 306,939, 484 but the odds of winning the $10,000 prize (St. James, Tennessee, and NY Ave) is actually worse, at 1 in 518,330,833. It’s also “harder” to win the $5,000 prize (Oriental, Vermont, Connecticut)… 1 in 578,695,060. Without knowing the odds of individual pieces, the overall odds are actually useless except to show that they print a bazillion Park Places, which lowers the odds of winning so much.

To see all of this info visually, make sure to check out our McDonald’s Monopoly Game Board [4].

In-Store Instant Win Prizes

Then you have the instant win prizes, which you discover just by ripping off the label. They’re essentially coupons or coupon codes that you can use immediately.

This year’s instant win prizes are:

You’ll notice that Wal-Mart gift cards were replaced with McDonald’s Arch cards, a few other minor changes to prizes (more Coke Reward points), and that the cars are gone. Last year you could have won a MY 12 Nissan Z Coupe Touring Model, a trip to the McDonald’s All-American basketball game, as well as a trip to London for the Olympics (obviously that’s not possible anymore!).

Online Instant Win Prizes

Lastly, we have the online instant win game which is entirely based on time. You get a code, enter it in, and hit spin. The first person to hit spin once the “winning time” starts is the one who wins. The code just gets you the spin. It’s an interesting way to do it and I suspect makes it possible to avoid gambling laws and stuff like that.


Here are the prizes for 2012:

A few changes for this year’s list of Instant Win prizes and unlike the regular game, which saw a boost in prizes, the total aggregate value of this year’s prizes seem smaller. They added the ability to win a car but removed a few big dollar cash prizes. Last year, there were seven $5,000 prizes and a $10,000 prize (this year, largest dollar amount is $500). You also took away forty $1,000 Walmart gift cards as well as a bunch of gas cards. There are more sports related stuff though, like NHL hats, t-shirts, and jerseys.

How to Get McDonald’s Monopoly Game Pieces

The way to get game pieces hasn’t changed for 2012, you have two choices here. The first is to go to a McDonald’s location and buy food. The list of food items that give you prizes has remained entirely unchanged from last year (along with how many game pieces you get):

Cheapest Way to Get Pieces: As was the case last year, hash browns are your best bet since you get game pieces without spending as much. When I checked with a few local McDonald’s locations, they told me one hashbrown would be a $1 and you could get two for $1.49. Some readers have reported that they can just pay for the containers, so they don’t waste the food (alternatively, just give the food away!).

Almost Free Game Pieces – Mail In Instructions

You know how they say “No purchase necessary” on everything? That’s because for the cost of two stamps, you can get game pieces mailed back to you. The rules for it are simple – you must hand write everything legibly, the address on the top left of the outer envelope must match the requestor’s street address, and you have to mail it between September 18th, 2012 and October 22nd, 2012. Be sure to include your first and last name, street address, city, state, and ZIP code (you don’t want them to DQ you for a silly reason). There does not appear to be a limit to how many you can request.

Here’s the address (it is a different PO Box than last year) to send your self-addressed stamped envelope:
2012 MONOPOLY Game at McDonald’s Game Piece Request
P.O. Box 49121
Strongsville, OH 44149-0121

It’ll cost you two envelopes and 90 cents of stamps (two 45 cents, cheaper if you bought Forever Stamps a while ago!). If you’re a lucky resident of Vermont, you actually don’t need to include return postage but they do say that you “may be required to provide proof of VT residency to Sponsor’s reasonable satisfaction before requests are fulfilled” – whatever that means.

Mail vs. Hash Browns

If the pricing at your McDonald’s is the same as the five locations near me, hash browns make it a close deal. I called several stores and they told me you could buy one hash brown for $1.00 and two for $1.49. It’s possible that if you buy two hash browns, they put them both in one sleeve (so you only get one set of game pieces). When you mail away for pieces, you get two pieces (four stamps) so the math gets to be pretty close. And if you don’t feel like checking the math on all the food items, we have a fun little calculator [5] to help.

You’ll have to decide whether it’s better for you to mail away for game pieces or just buy hash browns. You probably spend a few more cents for the hash browns (depends on whether they put two in one for $1.49) but save on writing the letter. That said, I wouldn’t actually eat the hash browns (or more than one anyway). According to McDonald’s, they have 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbohydrates and a whopping 310 milligrams of sodium.

McDonald’s Twitter Promotion

For a limited time (9/10/12-10/31/12), you can save $5 off a purchase of $5+ at McDonald’s with your American Express card. You’ll need an American Express card synced with Twitter [6], tweet a message using #AmexMcDs, and then receive a reply from @amexsync telling you that the offer was added to your card. Finally, you need to use that AMEX card to make a single purchase of $5+ in a McDonald’s location that isn’t in a Wal-Mart (those locations are excluded). You’ll get a statement credit 3-5 days after purchase. You can use this to defray some of the cost of getting pieces.

Dumpster Diving

If you don’t want to write a million letters and you don’t want to buy the food, your last resort is to dumpster dive. I’m not recommending it, by any means, but all it takes is one story about a guy who found a free car for McDonald’s to get free garbage filtering. 🙂

Trading & Buying Game Pieces

Technically, trading, buying and selling are forbidden by the rules. There are reasonable exceptions, like kids giving it to their parents, but I just wanted to say, for the sake of completeness, that it’s forbidden. But people do it. They do it a lot. Look at the comments from this guide for previous years and there are about a thousand people with Boardwalk looking for Park Place. 999 of them are liars and just want to have some fun (this year, 998 will be liars), so just be aware of that. There are always places online for people to trade pieces, I’ll list them whenever those sites pop back up with the game starting. Trade at your own risk.

If you want to check out the official rules, here [7] they are! If you hate reading rules, here’s some fun trivia [8] about the game!

(Photo: tonythemisfit [9])