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McDonalds Monopoly: Ba da ba ba ba, I’m Lovin’ It

October 15th, 2004 · 115 Comments

Yes, we have updates for McDonald’s Monopoly 2008

The online version of the game may be vulnerable to giving out unlimited free game plays if a user clears their flash cookies.

Click here to read more about how to clear Flash cookies to possibly play McDonald’s Monopoly free

LAST UPDATED: 10/26/2004 @ 20:00 EDT. The 12th of October was a special night for me. As a loyal customer of McDonalds and avid connoisseur of fast food, I pulled into the drive-thru intending to get a dollar menu snack complemented with the obligatory large diet soda. As I opened my window to exchange payment and retrieve my order, my eyes opened wide and I gasped excitedly. The cup I was handed had a small, waxy paper object affixed to it: a peel-off game piece that could win me anything from a free breakfast sandwich to $1 million! I joked with the cashier and spoke of my fondness for the promotion, and discussed it’s history of sordid business practices.

McDonalds Monopoly was the particular promotion that we were discussing. Of course, in the past, millions of people flocked to their local McDonalds restaurant hoping to win one of many available prizes – many individuals can afford taking the chance on a cheeseburger that could make them a millionaire. Few know the tale of the marketing firm that ran promotions for McDonalds between 1996 and 2001. As it turns out, a group of eight people were arrested on peculiar charges, such as conspiracy to commit mail fraud (which is punishable by a maximum fine of $250,000 and a five year imprisonment term). What was their crime? Over the course of those six years, they usurped the winning prize pieces from public distribution and used a complex network of patsies to redeem them.

When all was said and done, they were accused of stealing a total of $12.3 Million, along with a Dodge Viper in 1996. Now, if my math is correct, forgetting that these scammers are facing time in a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison, they are only liable for paying a total of $2 Million in fines, far short of the amount that was stolen from the American public. I remember distinctly being a small child eagerly asking my mother to buy us McDonalds as my brother and I drooled over the missing pieces on our official game board. When I learned that the entire McDonalds Monopoly promotion had been a farce, I was crushed. I felt lied to. I also felt like this should have received greater media attention. With the 2004 Monopoly promotion now in full swing, I will dissect the game as I play it.

For more information on the McDonalds Monopoly McFraud, click here. For the official McDonalds Monopoly site, click here.

First it is useful to discuss an interesting twist to the game: as they did in 2003, McDonalds has teamed with Best Buy to put “Best Buy Bucks,” predominantly of $1 denominations, on large fries and chicken selects packaging. A few lucky folks will receive larger denomination coupons. What is particularly interesting about the Best Buy Bucks coupons is that coupons may be added up to a total of $300 during a single in-store visit. Also, each coupon contains a non-unique bar code. The bar code serves as instructions to the point-of-sale terminal to reduce the total by the denomination designated on the coupon. Interestingly, this could lead to severe coupon fraud, as a single $20 coupon could effectively be reproduced without means to trace its origin, even if the reproduction contained only the same bar code without the McDonalds Monopoly peel-off style printing. For example, a plain paper printout of an identical barcode would still function as a coupon to the cash register with no way to differentiate a ‘good’ barcode from a rogue one. This problem is exacerbated by the additional flaw resulting from the redemption scheme via Each coupon is tagged with a unique identifier that is not recorded at the store. This serial number is used to obtain a $1 credit via Since the stores accept the coupons without referencing these codes, considering that there are 78,000,000 Best Buy Bucks out there, it is highly likely that people will ‘double-dip’. These issues are worth consideration from Best Buy in the future during any type of mass-coupon distribution involving unlimited price reductions to non-specific items.

In any event, I am also interested in instant win pieces and the odds of receiving them. Below is a stem-and-leaf tally of the pieces I have received thus far.

Mediterranean Ave: 0 (0.0%)
Baltic Ave: 8 (8.7%)
Oriental Ave: 6 (6.5%)
Vermont Ave: 0 (0.0%)
Connecticut Ave: 6 (6.5%)
St. Charles Pl: 8 (8.7%)
States Ave: 5 (5.4%)
Virginia Ave: 0 (0.0%)
St. James Pl: 8 (8.7%)
Tennessee Ave: 0 (0.0%)
New York Ave: 3 (3.3%)
Kentucky Ave: 0 (0.0%)
Indiana Ave: 6 (6.5%)
Illinois Ave: 3 (3.3%)
Atlantic Ave: 6 (6.5%)
Ventnor Ave: 0 (0.0%)
Marvin Gardens: 3 (3.3%)
Pacific Ave: 4 (4.3%)
North Carolina: 4 (4.3%)
Pennsylvania Ave: 0 (0.0%)
Park Pl: 7 (7.6%)
Boardwalk: 0 (0.0%)
Reading Railroad: 9 (9.8%)
Pennsylvania Railroad: 4 (4.3%)
B & O Railroad: 2 (2.2%)
Short Line Railroad: 0 (0.0%)
In addition, I have obtained instant win pieces:Free Breakfast Sandwich: 3 (3.3%)
Free Small Soft Drink: 1 (1.1%)
Total: 92 Game Pieces, Twenty-One (21) $1 Best Buy Bucks (100.0%). Table last updated 10/26/2004 @ 20:00 EDT.
Interested in helping this study by telling me what you get when you purchase McDonalds in the near future? Please post a comment and express interest!

Thursday, October 21, I learned that an online McDonalds monopoly game existed apart from the collect-and-win game that is so heavily advertised. Interestingly enough, everyone wins a computer game during the online redemption. What is particularly concerning is that the vendor of the software, WildTangent, is notorious as a spyware vendor. Even worse, I was required to register an email address to check my pieces. After redeeming the maximum of six pieces, I checked my email to find seven mails from McDonalds alone — six telling me that I ‘won’ the games by WildTangent, and another confirming that I had indeed registered to redeem game pieces. I have since changed my communications preferences via the ‘unsubscribe’ function. It will be interesting to see how McDonalds complies with my privacy wishes. Additionally, it will be interesting to see how many of the online codes redeem anything other than this software. It is my understanding that there are indeed confirmed winners of Sony mini-disc systems.

Another strange discovery today was that of the mysterious hidden game found when entering codes online. The placemats, game boards, and advertisements advise us to enter our game piece codes at On these advertisements, there is an illustration of a McDonalds Monopoly Illinois Ave Game Piece, with the code I6L6V4N4T2 (think “I’m Lovin’ It” with descending numbers in there). Well — it turns out that if one enters that code in the online redemption system, a very bizarre game can be played. Try it out and see for yourself!

Some interesting statistics, based on official McDonalds Monopoly Odds available at the official site:Odds of winning anything worth over $50 in McDonalds Monopoly: 1 in 26,559 (0.0038%).

Odds of winning McDonalds Monopoly considering Best Buy Bucks/Gift Certs, any prizes over $5 in value: 1 in 2,751 (0.036%).

Chances of winning a food prize: 1 in 8.6 (11.62%).
Chances of winning ANY prize (not including $1 Best Buy Bucks which are guaranteed): 1 in 8.573 (11.66%).
So: 99.69% of the times that you WIN at McDonalds Monopoly, you will have won a food prize such as a small soft drink or breakfast sandwich.

The question is — are you feeling lucky?

Tags: Business · McDonalds · Skippy Stuff

115 responses so far ↓

  • 1 stauffer // Oct 27, 2008 at 8:06 am

    i have parkplace 274

    if anyone has 273 i will gladly split 500k.

  • 2 Nick // Oct 27, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    I have a ventor avenue and need marvin gardens

  • 3 Chris // Oct 28, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    I need Short line, Virginia Ave, Tennessee, Ventor Ave and Pensylvannia

    ROB you have Shortline??

  • 4 Chris // Oct 28, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    JACK – do you have these pieces in your list?

  • 5 CakeB*tch // Oct 29, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    On a totally off note – Is anyone else totally peeved that the game pieces dont have sticky backs this year? My friend almost ripped one in half trying to peel it … which, ok, was actually a little funny. But anyway. obviously the game is rigged. Obviously its just to get us to spend money, but thats why its “Promotional”. Anyway, as long as a little bit of distracting fun doesnt turn into all out obsession (i.e. buying and selling game pieces/codes) it doesnt hurt. Were not ALL shelling out tons of cash here. I dont see whats wrong with buying a large $1 sweet tea a few times a week. Or copping the pieces of my big mac addicted friends. (personally I prefer whoppers, GASP!)Its all just part of the Obsessive Compulsive Addictive party that is being Human. 🙂

  • 6 ashantih // Oct 30, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    how are you all doing! hope good anyways i got this opportunity & it means alot to me even due it’s not much but i’ve to win my $2,000 at the north carolina avenue from the, can you please help me with the directions! i’m looking forward to hear from you. for more information call: 443.557.8704 thanks

  • 7 greg // Nov 1, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    hey skip i have pennsylvania avenu you swear you’ll split

  • 8 greg // Nov 1, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    do you have vetnor ave.

  • 9 Elle // Nov 1, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Wow, the game is a scam… so far I have:

    2 Park Places
    2 Atlantic Avenues, Marvin Gardens
    2 Indiana Avenues
    St. James Place
    States Ave, St. Charles Place
    Oriental Ave., Connecticut Ave.
    All three Railroads except the elusive Short Line (and three multiple Readings)
    And Electric Co.

  • 10 lita // Nov 1, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Do anyone have Indiana Ave unused code if so please email it to me and i will give u some of my codes thanks 🙂

  • 11 B // Nov 2, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    landed on community chest 5 times and Go twice
    used the mcr points and gave away 1 of the 1 hour free wifi, won’t use it so here is the other WPWS-T8N8-D4 …..have fun

  • 12 noah // Oct 9, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    i have altantic and marvin garden anyone has ventor i will split hit me up at

  • 13 rasheed miller // Oct 22, 2009 at 10:26 am

    i looooooooove Mcflurrys from mcyds tey are so good i love mines with m&ms i am lovin mcdonalds.

  • 14 Ikecia Stiff // Oct 28, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I have:

    Atlantic Ave $25,000 – 2 pieces
    Baltic Ave $50 – 5 pieces
    B&O Railroad $ 500 – 1 piece
    Connecticut Ave $1000 – 2 pieces
    Illinois Avenue 10,000 – 1 piece
    Indiana Avenue 10,000 – 1 pieCES
    Marvin Gardens $25,000 – 1 piece
    North Carolina Ave $50,000 – 2 pieces
    Oriental Ave $ 1,000 – 1 piece
    Park Place $1,000,000 – 1 piece
    Pacific Ave $50,000 – 3 pieces
    Pennsylvania RR $500 – 1 piece
    Reading Railroad $ 500 – 3 pieces
    States Avenue $2000 – 2 pieces
    St Charles Place $2,000 – 2 pieces
    St James Place $ 5,000 – 1 piece

    I Need:

    Boardwalk $1,000,000
    Pennsylvania Ave $50,000
    Ventnor Ave 25,000
    Kentucky AVe $10,000
    Tennesee Ave & New York Ave $5,000
    Virginia Ave $ 2,000
    Vermont Ave $1000
    Short Line $500
    Mediterranean Ave $50

  • 15 al // Oct 27, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    hey guys i have parkplace&boarwalk number 770 i only need 771 i ll be glad to share 50% 50% let me know if any body has it i m living in maryland thanks

    [Editor’s reply: congratulations, you just discovered that you and about 300 million other people “only need Boardwalk”.]

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