Frugal Living, Personal Finance 

McD Monopoly Game: Mail-in vs. Hash Browns Epic Challenge Part 4

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mcd game pieces
It’s been a long month, to say the least. McDonald’s Monopoly unexpectedly started two months early, forcing Jim and me to scramble around and figure out what to do. Then in haste we decided it’d be smart to buy tons of food and write even more SASE letters than last year.

And we did it. Whew.

Today’s the final day to input codes online for the game, so we figured it’s the perfect time to wrap up our little experiment.

In part 1 Jim bought 200 hash browns while I stamped 500 SASE letters to McDonald’s, Part 2 involved the peeling of all the greasy, grimey pieces off the hash browns and cataloging, and part 3 kicked off with my receipt of 494 of my 500 letters from McDonald’s, containing 1,976 pieces.

Below is a breakdown of our results. Enjoy!

Brandon’s Challenge

After all the stamping, the most absolutely arduous task was cataloging. My God, did I ever underestimate this. Since I wanted to keep accurate counts of all the individual street pieces, rail roads and instant-win prizes, I had to split everything up into individual piles. Seems easy enough. I did something similar for last year’s challenge. But everything changes on this scale. I spent a significantly larger chunk of time sorting than I did last year.

From home…

To work…

And back again. I had plenty of free time on my hands, and I had to find some way to entertain myself while sorting to maintain some semblance of sanity. So…what did I do?

It’s not my proudest moment, but hey, it helped me survive a good 3+ hours of sorting that night. My heart will go on.

The Data

So everyone wants to know…

Did I win big? Nope. Not even close. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.

Sad face.

Here’s all my pieces:

You should notice a little discrepancy here. For some reason, my count total is off by a good 500 pieces. I have a total of 1,522 game pieces, but I should have around 1,976 (494 letters x 4 pieces/letter). I counted pretty thoroughly and assumed I got 494 letters back (I positively sent 500 letters), but my numbers show that I have around 380 letters worth of pieces. So either I grossly miscounted the number of letters I got back, or we have a Hamburglar on the loose. Either way, I have what I have, no clue where the discrepancy came from.

I didn’t list any of the rare pieces — Mediterranean Ave., Vermont Ave., Kentucky Ave., Virginia Ave., Pennsylvania Ave., Short Line and Boardwalk — because well, I didn’t win any of them. Marvin Gardens is far and away the most common piece (St. James Place was my most common last year), and surprisingly Park Place is the least common. I always figured that they’d flood the market with Park Places to get everyone excited to search for Boardwalk. That would seem like a solid plan to me, but I guess not.

As for instant-win prizes, I have enough medium fries to get me through half the year. That’s obviously the go-to giveaway prize, and was the case last year as well.

So how did Jim fair?

Jim’s Challenge

Not much better. Here’s the results:

Pretty similar outcome, meaning we’re both losers.

No rare pieces collected, here. States Ave. was his most common piece, which differs from mine (Marvin Gardens), but other than that, not much is different between his 400 pieces and my 1,522.

But our goal was to see who could win back the most value in instant-win prizes. Who won?


Winner: Brandon

Looks like I came out victorious. Huzzah! I had a decent net value of over $80 off instant-wins. Jim… didn’t do so hot. I’m actually surprised at how little he won — totally unexpected.

I netted around $0.39/game piece and Jim about $0.31 — not that far off.

One thing we both won was a truckload of food. Here’s a more frightening picture of everything:

So there you go. Hope you guys enjoyed our little challenge! We’ll have to make another post to go through the online codes, and boy did we enter a metric ton of codes, so that’ll be fun.

{ 13 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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13 Responses to “McD Monopoly Game: Mail-in vs. Hash Browns Epic Challenge Part 4”

  1. Wilma says:

    Totally amazing. Very surprised that Jim got less than you because he actually purchased food. Loved the experiment. Wondering if anyone from McD’s is reading this and figuring out a way to make it even harder next year. Great work and thanks for sharing it.

  2. This is awesome. By far the most detailed monopoly analysis I have ever seen. You guys really did your homework on this one.

  3. hoht says:

    Excellent post! I loved the in-depth analysis.

  4. sanandave says:

    Hi Brandon:

    Fun article, but please pay attention to the usage difference between “I” and “me”. For example, in the first paragraph, you should say “forced Jim and me”….., and under the heading JIM’S CHALLENGE, it should be “Not much better than I”…

    Regards, Dave

  5. CTMike says:

    I had similar results but at a much smaller scale. I did win a lot of Fries and redbox but nothing exciting. The game was not as good as last year when I won a lot more food with less money spent. It was fun……

  6. Steph says:

    If you do it again next year, I suggest that you use a printer to address the envelopes. It will save you some time and a cramped hand!

  7. Brandon says:


    Good catch. Thanks.

    • Prof says:

      Classy guy. Graciously accepted a constructive criticism comment and made appropriate changes.

  8. Fred Mertz says:

    What was the hypothesis for this experiment? Seemed like a lot of work for little payoff.

  9. Nick says:

    Thanks for posting!

    I was excited about McDonalds this year and my wife and I visited much for frequently than we normally would. However, we got a very low rate of return from purchasing breakfast items. Of course, this is purely anecdotal, but I wonder if perhaps the bigger winners are for the more expensive food items?

  10. Jeremy Baisden says:

    You would have a half year’s worth of fries … except that they expire today. I think when you bring that into perspective, the utility of the prizes becomes lower and lower.

  11. Brandon says:


    Yup. That’s the catch, all the food expires extremely quickly.

    The non-food prizes mostly expire in mid September, too, so every prize in general has a short usage window.

    Kind of a cheap move, if you ask me.

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