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McDonald's Monopoly: The Month of Misery and Depression

November 18, 2010

Mike Whatley
McDonald's Monopoly: The Month of Misery and Depression

I really do not like McDonald’s food in general. I live in Maryland and have driven cross country to CMC three times now, so sure, if I’m starving while driving in West Texas and the choice is the local toxic looking hole-in-the-wall diner inside the falling down motel or McDonald’s, the Golden Arches win.  And sure, an Egg McMuffin once every few months can hit the spot.  Yet, when I’m feeling hungry, McDonald’s is rarely the first thing that comes to mind. However, several weeks ago, one ad changed everything.  While watching TV with two of my roommates, Rich Uncle Pennybags (the Monopoly man) announced that Monopoly was back at McDonald’s and that this time there were more ways to win than ever.  We could win $1 million simply by peeling pieces off a Big Mac box.  Memories of playing Monopoly at McDonald’s as kids combined with current visions of how we could spend (meaning waste) the money tricking out our apartment or throwing extravagant parties.  The three of us fell silent as we all realized what inevitably had to occur.  Like any rational 21-year-olds, we decided that we would win the $1 million dollars whatever it took (the odds of winning are, officially, 1 in 273,825,959).

We began our mission the next day at dinner.  Walking confidently into the McDonald’s on Foothill Boulevard by the WalMart, we surveyed which items on the menu had the most game pieces.  Before ordering each item, we dutifully asked the cashier if it had Monopoly stickers on it.  I settled on the Big N’ Tasty meal with a large fries (four pieces) and a medium Diet Dr. Pepper (two pieces).  We sat down at the table, victory sure to follow.  We decided to peel each piece one at a time.  I pulled off mine—a yellow, a green, a railroad, a purple, the same railroad, and wait…Park Place!!  In our first meal we were half way to our guaranteed million already.  My roommate peeled off his pieces—alas almost the exact same as mine.  But still, we were almost $1 million richer.

On the way out, we had another ingenious idea.  We needed caffeine to study that evening, and didn’t Frappes (the McDonald’s Frappuccino equivalent) have Monopoly stickers on them?  Yes they did the cashier informed us.  We each ordered one (two pieces per cup).  We each got the exact same stickers as before.  But never fear—under the new game rules we could enter each sticker’s code online for a second chance to win.  We hurried back to our apartment and went immediately to our laptops, again confident in our victory.  We entered the first code and got our choice of three cards.  We chose the middle.  It flipped over to Rich Uncle Pennybags telling us we did not win.  No fear, we had many more to go.  We entered each code; the result remained the same.

At about eleven that night, someone suggested they were hungry and wanted to go to Del Taco.  Simple answer: no.  We had agreed to eat nowhere else, fast food wise, for the entire month.  McDonald’s or nothing.  So we drove back to (the same) McDonald’s and ordered a large fries (four pieces) and a medium Coke (two pieces).  When we arrived at the window to pay, the cashier gave me a strange look having seen me only three hours before.  We did not care, we knew we were about to win.  Alas, he was right to laugh at us when I peeled off Reading Railroad for the third time that day.

The second day we decided to change our tactics slightly.  We knew that we needed to go to more than one McDonald’s or else our chances were significantly hurt because the company would not be dumb enough to send both Park Place and Boardwalk to the same restaurant.  We decided to venture to the one attached to the Chevron by the I-10.  With spirits still high, we went in and ordered.  We sat down and anxiously peeled off the first stickers hoping to see the blue strip at the top of the sticker that would indicate we had Boardwalk.  Tragically all that it revealed was a railroad—Reading, for the fourth time.  My excitement was crushed and the rest of my day ruined by this horrible event.  But none of us would break the pact—we were going to win a million dollars.

Over the course of the next month (all of October), a similar story occurred almost every day.  Excitement and joy upon entering McDonald’s only gave way to misery and depression when the stickers were peeled back to reveal yet another disappointment.  Over fall break we branched out and traveled to find new pieces in other McDonald’s supply distribution zones.  That did not work either.  At one point, a member of the team was seen sticking his hand into a trash can at a McDonald’s outside of Palm Springs because he had seen a Big Mac that still had pieces on it.  Throughout the month the desperation got worse and worse.

One month and many horrible, depressing meals later, we had 95 Monopoly pieces which translated into two victories: a free snack wrap and a free large fries.  Our dreams of happiness had been decimated by Rich Uncle Pennybags and Ronald McDonald.  Our stomachs had been destroyed.  And worst of all, our apartment had a distinct scent of McDonald’s fries.

A day after Monopoly ended, we decided to take vengeance on the game by lighting the free Monopoly board and all of our pieces on fire.  Apparently, just to spite losers like us, McDonald’s had made the board and the pieces with a glossy paint that prevented them from burning.  Even when we tried to relieve our misery, Monopoly continued to make it worse with Rich Uncle Pennybags smiling up at us from the game board.  The month left us all in a state of misery that continues to haunt us whenever we drive by any McDonald’s on the the way to other fine fast food establishments.  The true winner: the Taco Bell on Foothill, thanks to our new business.

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