How McDonald's Monopoly Game Became So Ridiculously Successful

mcdonalds monopoly

Photo: By Scorpions and Centaurs on Flickr

It’s the last day of McDonald’s famous promotion with Hasbro’s Monopoly in 2011, and once again it pulled in throngs of fans looking to peel off pieces and win prizes.Click here to see crazy facts about McDonald’s Monopoly >

The promo has been running since 1987, and has really taken off since. Now, hundreds of game pieces are produced annually, along with all those prizes, which range from instant win food items to the $1,000,000 jackpot.

Did McDonald’s and Hasbro ever think it’d grow to be such a massive phenomenon? Who knows, but they’ve managed to strike marketing gold.

How’d it become so successful? The game is built to get you to come back into the store. It provides enough instant prizes to give you the feeling that you’re winning, but in the end, everyone dreams about scoring that Boardwalk, so they go back for more.

And the online game added in 2003 just amped up that factor: “We’ve found that when people play the online Monopoly game, there’s a level of customer engagement that keeps them coming back,” Chris Hess, VP of McDonald’s ad agency The Marketing Store, told Promo Magazine. “They’re quicker to get back into the store and revisit.”

They've produced 4.2 billion game pieces since 2003 -- that's enough for over 60% of the world's population to have a piece

Source: McDonald's

What do most people win? Food and drinks (which get you right back into the store) have just 4.33 to 1 odds

The rarest instant win this year is the $10,000 prize at 206 million to 1. For some reason, it's actually rarer than the $25,000 prize at 124 million to 1

Each group of pieces has one that's much more rare than the others (always the last alphabetically, except for Boardwalk)

Mediterranean Ave.

Vermont Ave.

Virginia Ave.

Tennessee Ave.

Kentucky Ave.

Ventnor Ave.

Pennsylvania Ave.

Boardwalk

Short Line

Source: McDonald's

The easiest group to collect is Mediterranean Ave. and Baltic Ave. at 314,154 to 1 odds. But you're much more likely to go to the hospital from a leaf blower accident (1 in 171,100) than win the $50

The odds of getting a Boardwalk are a staggering 1 in 618 million, while Park Place is 1 in 11. Odds of getting both? 1 in 3,141,832,163

But there's always hope -- 2010 million-dollar winner and former construction worker Jonathan Kehoe was unemployed for 18 months before hitting the jackpot

Source: Fox 6

This year there were 560 million pieces available for distribution in the US and 58 million in Canada

There have been 724 million prizes given out since 2003

Source: McDonald's

McDonald's Monopoly has been featured in 14 countries across the world, but the board game itself has been sold in a whopping 111 countries

It has gotten so big and lucrative that Internet scammers are all over, trying to get you to fork over the valuable game pieces

McDonald's couldn't even stay clean internally -- in 2001, the FBI charged McDonald's with fraud over the Monopoly promotion, and arrested 8 people

McDonald's was a target of a multistate crime ring that siphoned off more than $13 million in winnings from its promo contests, including Monopoly.

Here's an explanation from the Chicago Tribune:

An employee of the marketing company that ran the games for the Oak Brook-based fast-food giant masterminded the scheme, prosecutors said. The employee, Jerome Jacobson, is accused of distributing winning game pieces to a network of accomplices, who then claimed prizes from $100,000 to $1 million and gave Jacobson a cut. McDonald's responded to the arrest of eight alleged members of the ring by promising to give away $10 million or more to customers.

Eventually, they decided that McDonald's wasn't directly culpable, but there was fraud involved in the game from 1996-2001.

Now see some McDonald's employees that didn't follow the rules

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