McDonald's Monopoly returns; consumers are stoked

The fast-food giant's annual event is a marketer's dream, thanks to customers who can't wait to stop in and play.

By Bruce Kennedy Jul 17, 2013 1:00PM

File photo of Monopoly board game (© Rick Bowmer/AP)Combine two great American icons -- the venerable Monopoly board game from Hasbro (HAS) and Mickey D's -- and you get an annual marketing campaign that seems to grow in success and consumer interest each year.

McDonald's (MCD) Monopoly sweepstakes returned this week in its 21st edition, offering customers at the fast-food chain a chance to win both instant prizes like a free sandwich or drink, or more valuable items like vacation packages, a car, and cash awards of up to $1 million.

Customers' "favorite promotion, Monopoly at McDonald's, is still going strong," Douglas Freeland, McDonald's USA marketing director, said in a press statement.

The game appears to bring out a very nerdy, competitive streak in a lot of people. Walter Hickey at Business Insider has broken down the mathematical probabilities of actually winning in the McDonald's Monopoly game. As the company notes, there's a 1-in-4 chance of winning something each time you play.

But Hickey parsed the numbers even further and determined there's an 89.9% probability your prize will be food-related. What's more, he said, four out of every 11 prizes awarded will be a serving of medium fries.

He also broke down the odds of your acquiring the more valuable game pieces like Boardwalk, which come in at 1 in 602 million. Compare that with your chance of winning the Powerball lottery grand prize, which according to UPI has odds of 1 in 750 million.

And, of course, just as you'd expect from the Internet, several websites are devoted to the game. At the Bargaineering personal finance blog, Jim Wang has a very detailed guide on how to increase your chances of winning this year's edition. There's also at least one Facebook (FB) page where people can swap Monopoly game pieces.

Wang reported that this year's promotion started two months earlier that it has in recent years. "I don't know why they started the game so early," he wrote, "but it likely messed up preparations for so many Monopoly fans."

Creating a consumer passion for a product is something most marketers dream about. And years of successful promotional efforts have paid off big-time for McDonald's as an army of customers daydream about hitting the jackpot while wolfing down food at the Golden Arches.

"For the next few weeks, I'll function under a foggy haze that blinds me to the digestive guidelines for Big Mac consumption," reporter Sonya Sorich writes at the Columbus, Ga., Ledger-Enquirer. "I will lose sleep while pondering what portion of my $1 million should go toward my dog. All for a few good game pieces."

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Jul 17, 2013 2:28PM
why in the world is this newsworthy?
Jul 17, 2013 2:34PM

Had a friend won $250K on the McDonalds Monopoly Game, he used the money to buy his mother a home and then bought himself a new car.


Jul 17, 2013 2:29PM
Much like the board game i lose interest after i go directly to jail, do not pass go and do not collect 200 dollars.
Jul 17, 2013 4:01PM

This used to be a real boon to the newspapers, with all the people taking out classified ads looking to complete a color group - hey, everybody's looking for those same pieces! Now, it's probably on Craigslist.


The real winners are the cardiologists.

Jul 17, 2013 3:23PM

McD's was caught rigging the Monopoly game and they got into trouble.  Now, they are just smarter about how they do it.


If they have the audacity to do it once....well, you as a consumer, have been warned!

Jul 17, 2013 3:32PM
has anyone really won the 1 million dollars from McDonald`s monopoly games at least I don`t see or hear about them.
Jul 17, 2013 3:08PM
Of all the Monopoly pieces, there is only ONE property of a particular group to complete it.  For example, there is only ONE "Boardwalk" piece available!  I read at the store that the chances of winning the top prize is over 600,000,000 million to one.  There are only about 300,000,000 million PEOPLE in the US.  The advertising shows someone going to the drive-up window and getting a bag of cash.  Good marketing, but not what really happens.

This being said, there are lots of other prizes, and I do like to play, because I get the occasional free French Fries or soda.
Jul 17, 2013 3:48PM
They already had the list of big prize winners before they even announced the game. No regular Joe will ever win the big prizes in a game like this.
Jul 17, 2013 3:30PM
Jul 17, 2013 4:05PM
I wondered as well if anyone has actually won the million dollar prize. As far as the game, why can't they give out game pieces on every sale rather than just on certain items??
Jul 17, 2013 3:31PM
The only thing I get at Mc D's is the Egg McMuffin with a cup of their delicious coffee.  Don't think I'll  get a game piece with that. 
Jul 17, 2013 3:53PM

McDonalds should offer a combo meal with a small fry and small drink instead of ridiculous board game prizes, and they should be using a ghetto version of monopoly to match their advertising.

Jul 17, 2013 3:20PM
Wonder if it's rigged this year, too?
Jul 17, 2013 3:43PM
For one, I can care less, this game and winnings are a joke.  Who won in the last game???
Jul 17, 2013 2:18PM

There are some McD's menu items that call me....and you simply cannot beat their iced tea!

Have won loads in the previous Monopoly games.  Sign me up!

PS> gus Hurst (below) - I've never seen any 'weird' food there before!   :O

Jul 17, 2013 4:21PM
I know for a FACT that there has been and always will be dishonest McD employees who take wrappers and containers with game pieces by the boxes and cases home with them!
Jul 17, 2013 4:04PM
As long as they pay employees with high-fee bank debit cards, I'll never go McDonald's; this is a diversionary tactic from a disgraceful wronging/robbing of their minimum wage employees. 
Jul 17, 2013 3:36PM
Yea yea yea the McDonalds monopoly game is back, but the same thing is going to happen.  All the time the winners are going to be in the mid-west and the North East like always.  So what is me inspiration on playing this? I am on the west coast where there has not been a winner for the big winning as far as I know of.......  Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Jul 17, 2013 2:40PM
I never seem to get any game pieces because what I order never has any on them.  My fave it the Yogurt Parfait and the double burger.  Sometimes the Mango Pineapple Smoothie. The new chicken wraps are pretty tasty but rather expensive for my budget.  Though they are really large and fill you up.
Jul 17, 2013 4:21PM
This is a great game to play on the consumers.  The reason they started this game earlier this year is cause food cost have gone up. And they do this promotion to disguise the price increase on there menu. People pay attention more to the game pieces than the prices. 
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