Updates for the 2014 McDonald’s Monopoly contest:
- The official game begins September 30, 2014
- 2014 rare game pieces announced.
- Your best odds to win a big prize are in the Pre-Promotion Sweepstakes
- List of 2014 instant win prizes with strategy to increase chances of winning $100,000.
- Increase your odds of winning the online portion of the game.
- Steps you can do to prepare for the game before it begins.
This article was written for the 2013 game which has now ended. While this article isn’t specifically written for the 2014 McDonald’s Monopoly game, many of the strategies in the article will likely still be effective when the next game rolls around. We do plan to write another article for McDonald’s Monopoly 2014, and we will link it here when it is up with all the latest details of the new game.
This summer comes with a surprise. McDonald’s Monopoly usually appears in the fall, but in 2013, it has come early. There are a lot of people who play this game and wonder how they can increase their chances to win. One of the bonuses of it starting early is that it has somewhat leveled the playing field since most of those who really try to win prizes for the game were preparing for a September start like it has begun the last few years. That being said, there is a lot of competition out there and in order to win one of the bigger prizes, you’re going to need a lot of luck no matter what steps you take. This is what you need to know if you want to maximize your chances of winning one of the bigger prizes in the game:
There are some great prizes being given away this year that most people would love to get. They include $1,000,000 in cash, cars, vacations and much, much more. While the food prizes are fairly common (1:4), it’s these big-ticket items that most people who play the game dream about. The game is played as it has been for years. You will get game pieces with purchases of specific products (you can also get game pieces through the mail without purchasing anything, but you do have to pay postage for two letters) at McDonald’s from now through August 12, 2013. The game pieces correspond to Monopoly properties from the original game, and with each piece you have the opportunity to win instantly or collect the colored property pieces that go together to win the big prizes. There is also an online game code this year making things even more interesting, as this is your best chance to win.
The first thing to understand about this game is that there are three main ways to win prizes. Understanding this is important as the odds of winning is different for each of the different ways, so focusing on those with better odds makes sense. Most people concentrate on trying to get the Monopoly game property pieces, but these actually have the lowest odds of winning.
The big winners of this game are those who love McDonald’s food, especially if you love hash browns. Hash browns are the least expensive food item that you can buy that come with game pieces on it. The price actually varies depending on where you live, but they are $1 each, or 2 for $1.49 in my area. The odds of winning an instant prize is approximately 1 in 4. Since there are 2 game pieces on each food item, that means you should win another food item for every two hash browns that you buy.
In my area, many people buy the hash browns for nothing more than the game pieces and end up throwing the food out. There are reports that some stores will sell the packaging without the hash browns as to not waste the food, but my local store doesn’t allow that. Some people will buy 20 hash browns and then just give them to other people in the shop, while others buy them and throw most of them away. A far better plan if you like the hash browns is to freeze them so that you can eat them at a later date (although I haven’t done this, Internet searches show that others have and it works decently). By doing this, for your $1.49, you get two hash browns plus the odds are in your favor that you will win another prize (which likely will be another food item). Still, three food items for $1.49 at McDonald’s is a pretty good deal.
It actually get’s even a little better. Out of those initial 20 items a person buys, they should win 10 additional food items. Those 10 winning pieces can then be turned in for food which should produce an addition 5 wins, then those five winners should produce another 2 and those two will produce another one. So, in a scenario where you buy 20 hash browns for $14.95 (plus tax), the result should be 20 hash browns (which can be frozen and eaten at a later date) plus another 10 – 18 food products. The hope is that among all those that there is at least one win with a larger prize, and if not, you have still received a lot of food for your money. (My bad — winning food items all are non game piece items. Buying 20 hash browns would get you 10 food item wins according to the odds, but not up to 18 like I wrote above.)
The good news doesn’t end there. Part of this year’s game is that all the property game pieces come with codes that can be entered into an online game where you have the chance to win prizes. The code doesn’t actually hold a prize. Prizes are awarded in regard to the time a code is entered. The odds of winning these prizes depends on how many people are entering the codes, but since the likelihood is that most people won’t enter codes, this is probably the best chance and gives you the greatest odds of winning a bigger prize.
What all this shows is that if you visit McDs on a regular basis and would be going there anyway, there’s a way to get a lot more food over what you would normally pay with an outside chance of winning a bigger prize as well. If you aren’t a big fan of the food at McDs, then it makes a lot less sense to play this game buying the food to get the game pieces. This doesn’t mean that you can’t play — it just means that you might have to be a little creative on how you get the game pieces.
Hang Out and Collect Game Pieces
I saw an extremely enterprising individual who had collected over 50 pieces simply sitting in McDonald’s, and he looked set to collect a lot more. He was in the restaurant working on his computer with a sign on the back of hi computer (sitting strategically by the main trash cans) that read “Wanted: Game Pieces You’re Going to Throw Away.” There are a large number of people who don’t play the game and a lot of people who play, but only look for the instant wins. These people throw out all the other game pieces that they get, and this guy was getting some of them.
In talking with him, he had actually won a couple of free food items from people who gave him game pieces that they had not even looked at, but the vast majority of the ones he received were game pieces for properties. What he was really after, however, were the game codes for the online version of the game, so he was happy with what he was getting. Basically, he was getting game pieces for free while he worked on the computer (he was a freelance computer programmer). I asked how the management felt and he said he never made a special request of whether it was OK to do, but that he was a regular customer at that location, so all the workers knew him. I would imagine that some managers might have an issue with this, so your success with trying something like this might vary. That being said, the rewards are quite high and the worst that can happen is they ask you not to do it.
Although there are some people who throw away their game pieces without looking at them, most people do look to see if they received an instant win. With all the good pieces already looked at, it’s normally pretty much of a tossup as to whether dumpster diving for the game pieces is worth the effort. This year, with the online game code chances, it tips in the favor of dumpster diving being worth it because all those game pieces that are “worthless” to the average person eating, but not seriously playing the game, actually have worth due to the codes that can be input. A lot of people have issues with dumpster diving, but there are also a lot of people who do it. If you decide this might be worth doing, make sure that dumpster diving is legal in your town. It still is in most places, but the last thing you want to do is to get arrested or fined for trying to get game pieces.
Workers at McDonald’s won’t be able to get you game pieces from packaging that hasn’t been sold as these are inventoried quite strictly for this game so that they aren’t taken, but they do have first access to the trash when cleaning off tables and taking it out to the dumpster. They are likely to come across a number of game tickets each day simply in their daily work. If you know someone who works, you could ask them to collect extra game pieces for you, although enterprising employees would probably be doing this for themselves.
If you have a lot of friends that frequent McDs, you could ask them to save game pieces for you as well. As noted, most people who visit the restaurant only play casually and are interested in the instant prizes. If you have a number of friends like this, you can gather all their extras and increase your chances of winning inputting online codes.
Get Game Pieces by Mail
This would initially seem like a great way to get game pieces without spending a lot of money, but it actually doesn’t turn out to be nearly as good as it first appears. The problem is that in order to get game pieces by mail, you need to use two stamps which will put you back $0.46 each, or $0.92 all together. While this is less expensive than buying hash browns, it will also take you a lot more time. The envelopes you send must be hand written (not computer generated) and you’re going to spend a lot of time requesting the pieces. While it is an option if you have a lot of free time, it makes less sense once you realize the cost and time involved than it might first appear. The address to request game pieces is:
2013 MONOPOLY Game at McDonald’s Game Piece Request
P.O. Box 49419
Strongsville, OH 44149-0419
Buy off eBay
There is already an active market for the game pieces with codes not used on eBay and this could be another way to get game pieces. Although doing this would seem to violate the rules of the game, there are plenty of people who are doing it and I’m not sure how anyone would ever know, especially for the small prizes and codes. The key here is to do the math to make sure you’re getting the pieces for less than you could get them on your own since weird things happen on eBay auctions and people are sometimes willing to pay amounts that really don’t make sense for things like this when they get into the auction.
The key to winning the big prizes is knowing what the rare pieces for the different Monopoly properties (these range from 2 to 4 pieces). If you manage to get the rare piece, you have basically won the prize since getting the other pieces can be done quite easily. It’s important to note that you want to avoid the common McDonald’s trading piece scam (this is where people say that they have all the pieces except one and they will split the prize if you provide that one piece. Since the rare piece is the only one that’s difficult to get, if you do this deal you are basically giving away half your winnings for nothing).
2013 Rare McDonald’s Game Pieces
- Mediterranean Avenue is the rare piece (1:30,124,503). When paired with Baltic Avenue (1:11), these two properties give a prize of $1,000. There are twenty of these cash prizes available.
- Vermont Avenue #434 is the rare piece (1:40,166,004). When found with Oriental Avenue #433 (1:11) and Connecticut Avenue #435 (1:11) these three properties give a prize of $5,000. There are fifteen of these cash prizes available.
- Virginia Avenue #438) is the rare piece (1:200,830,020). When found with St. Charles Place #436 (1:10) and States Avenue #437 (1:10), these three properties give a prize of $10,000. There are three of these cash prizes available.
- Tennessee Avenue #440 is the rare piece (1:602,490,060). When found with St. James Place #439 (1:10) and York Avenue #441 (1:10), these three properties win a trip to the Super Bowl (value $7,000) for two. There is a single trip available.
- Kentucky Avenue #442 is the rare game piece (1:15,062,252). When found with Indiana Avenue #443 (1:10) and Illinois Avenue #444 (1:10), these three properties win a vacation on Delta Vacation Trip (value $7,500) for two. There are forty of these vacation prizes available.
- Ventnor Avenue #446 is the rare game piece (1:301,245,030). When found with Atlantic Avenue #445 (1:10) and Marvin Gardens #447 (1:10), these three properties give a prize of $20,000. There are two of these cash prizes available.
- Pennsylvania Avenue #450 is the rare game piece (1:40,166,004). When found with Pacific Avenue #448 (1:10) and North Carolina Avenue #449 (1:10), these three properties win a 2014 model if the Fiat 500L car (value $22,345). There are fifteen of these cars available.
- Boardwalk #452 is the rare game piece (1:602,490,060) When paired with Park Place #451 (1:11), these two pieces give a $1,000,000 prize. There are two of these prizes available.
- Short Line Railroad #456 is the rare game piece (1:150,622,515). Wen found with Reading Railroad #453 (1:10), Pennsylvania Railroad #454 (1:10) and B&O Railroad #455 (1:10), these four railroad properties win a year’s worth of Shell gasoline (value $2,350). There are four of these fuel prizes available.
The interesting part is that the odds of winning $1,000,000 getting both pieces independently is (1:3,050,412,898), but the odds of getting both on a Big Mac to win the $1,000,00 are much better (1:37,955,000). In fact, those odds are much better than winning $5,000 (1:686,411,977), $10,000 (1:965,709,253), a trip to the Superbowl (1:2,897,127,759), the airline vacation (1:72,428,194), $20,000 (1:1,419,702,416), the car (1:189,293,656) and 1 years worth of gas (1:5,945,378,686). These odds are some what deceiving, at least if you know what the rare piece are. The odds are far greater because three or four game pieces are needed to win on most prizes, but only two are needed for the $1 million prize. The truth of the matter is that if you get the rare Boardwalk game piece, you would have no problem getting the Park Place piece.
Instant Win Prizes
There are a number of prizes that you can instantly win. The vast majority of these are food prizes, but there are opportunities to win up to $100,000 instantly. Below are the instant win prizes available for the 2013 game, the number available and the odds of winning:
- Food Prizes have odds of winning at approximately 1:4. These include instant win for any breakfast sandwich excluding the McMuffin (1:22), Medium French Fries (1:9), Quarter Pounder with Cheese (1:44), Small Frappé or Smoothie (1:44), Regular McFlurry or Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfaitt (1:44).
- Redbox 1 Night Rental: 6,000,000 (1:101)
- My Coke Rewards 40-Point Bundles: 4,000,000 (1:151)
- $5 Arch Card: 28,000 available (1:21,518)
- $10 Promotion Code for EA Sports: 3,750,000 (1:161)
- $10 Gas Gift Card from Shell: 10,000 (1:60,250)
- Monopoly Board Game: 10,000 (1:60,250)
- $25 Gas Gift Card from Shell: 7,000 (1:86,071)
- Shutterfly 8×8 Photo Book: 2,000,000 (1:302)
- $50 Cash: 10,000 (1:60,250)
- Video Game from EA Sports: 17,000 (1:35,441)
- Earphones by urBeats: 150 (1:4,016,601)
- $100 Cash: 5,700 (1:105,701)
- Panasonic LUMIX TS20 Digital Camera: 400 (1:1,506,226)
- Beats by Dr. Dre Pill Speaker: 150 (1:4,016,601)
- $199.95 Headphones: 2 (1:301,245,030)
- Panasonic VIERA 50-inch Plasma HDTV: 60 (1:10,041,501)
- $5,000 Cash: 15 (1:40,166,004)
- NFL Game Experience by EA Sports: 60 (1:10,041,501)
- Resorts Vacation through Beaches: 130 (1:4,634,539)
- $7,500 Home Fix-up: 19 (1:31,710,004)
- NFL Pro Bowl Experience: 20 (1:30,124,503)
- 2013 FIAT 500 Hatchback: 10 (1:60,249,006)
- 2013 FIAT 500 Cabrio: 10 (1:60,249,006)
- $20,000 Cash: 3 (1:200,830,020)
- $100,000 Cash: 2 (1:301,245,030)
The one prize that seems strange and out of place is the headphones — they are only worth $200 and there are only 2 available, and don’t seem to be sponsored by any company.
Online Instant Win Prizes
As mentioned at the beginning, this is probably the game in which you have the best chance to win one of the bigger prizes (although the odds are still pretty bad). Since this takes some effort on the participants part, there will be far fewer people playing this portion of the game which should dramatically increase the odds of winning over the other areas of this game. At the bottom of each property game piece is a code that you enter online for a chance of prizes. The code doesn’t determine the prize, but the time you enter the code. A computer determines a time when a prize will be given away, and the person who happens to enter their code first after that designated time will win the prize. These are the prizes and number available for the online instant game:
- Redbox One Night DVD Rental: 1,000,000 prizes
- 40 My Coke Rewards Points: 500,000
- $10 Promotion Code from EA Sports: 250,000
- 1,000 My Coke Rewards Points: 42
- $50 Cash: 300
- $40 Gas Gift Card from Shell: 500
- Video Game from EA Sports: 500
- $100 Cash: 240
- $500 Cash: 20
- $7,500 Home Fix-up: 1
- $20,000 cash: 1
- 2013 FIAT 500 Cabrio: 1
It’s also possible to receive free online entry codes through official communication emails of the game, but it isn’t clearly spelled out how many or how often these will be made available. If you have any questions about the game or the rules, be sure to check out the official rules
If you participate in these types of games, have you ever won a prize and are there other methods that you use to secure game pieces that aren’t mentioned above? Also, there are other ways of making money with this game that playing it.