When McDonald’s started their Monopoly game in 1987, it blew people’s minds. Here was a fast food chain offering prizes for eating their food! It’s one of the most well-known “fast food – board game” promotional pairings and every year thousands upon thousands of customers descend on McDonald’s locations everywhere looking for their shot at getting one of two Boardwalks and a 20-year $50,000 annuity. For years, I’ve been covering how to win the McDonald’s Monopoly game  because it fascinated me.
Today, I’ll share with you some fun game trivia I unearthed while trying to read more about the game. Here’s the first one, since the game started in 1987, it has always awarded a million dollars to the “winner,” whomever finds Boardwalk. A million dollars in 1987 dollars is worth $2,027,984.15 today. Which is interesting because now there are potentially two million dollar winners.
Fraud in Monopoly-land
(I know it’s not called Monopoly-land) Many laws forbid a company from administering its own contests, in an attempt to avoid fraud and so that there is a third party administrator with no direct vested interest in the outcome of the game. In 2000, the US game was stopped when it was discovered that someone at Simon Marketing, the sweepstakes administrator, was stealing game pieces and giving it to his friends. The thief, chief of security Jerome P. Jacobson, removed some of the rare pieces and gave it to friends, with himself getting a cut of the prizes. This happened from 1995 to 2000 to the tune of $24 million in prizes.
In 1995, someone mailed the Boardwalk piece to St. Jude Children’s Hospital and McDonald’s waived the rule that made it illegal to transfer prizes. Sadly, it was later learned that Jacobson sent the piece.
Other Fun Facts
- International Superstar: The McDonald’s Monopoly game has made an appearance in a number of other countries, including Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, Singapore, Austria, Poland, and Switzerland.
- Golden Avenue & Arches Avenue: In 2008, McDonald’s added two pieces to the board – Golden Avenue (rare) and Arches Avenue. The winner who found both pieces was awarded $100,000. It’s the only time McDonald’s added properties to the game and they have yet to return.
- Utilities? The game has never featured Water Works or Electric Company. Or Community Chest, Chance, Luxury Tax, or Income Tax spots. One of these days it’d be fun to have the Jail thrown in… it IS the most landed on spot. 🙂
- No trading! Despite explicit rules indicating you cannot trade (“The purchase, sale, trading, or barter of Game Pieces, Game Stamps, FREE Codes or Game Codes via Online or live auctions, or any other methods, does not constitute Legitimate Channels and is expressly prohibited.”) you will see forums, blogs, and other forms of communication used by players to swap pieces. Sadly, much is for naught since every set has one rare piece – get it and the prize is basically yours.
- A million bucks. The US is the land of opportunity and there is no bigger opportunity in the world of McDonald’s Monopoly games than here – top prize nets you a cool million dollars. Win the UK version by getting Park Lane and Mayfair and it “only” gets you £500,000.
McDonald’s Monopoly Game Commercial (1987)
As you just learned, McDonald’s started the Monopoly game in 1987, here is a commercial advertising it:
I hope you enjoyed these fun trivia facts, good luck!
(Photo: andymangold )