Lifestyle

What are the odds of actually winning McDonald's Monopoly?

As you know from family game nights, Monopoly is usually an endless slog that breeds resentment and Boardwalk-fueled freakouts. Except when it's at McDonald's, and you can win real prizes. The annual sweepstakes returned to McDonald's late last month, with everything from Hulu Plus subscriptions to $1 million up for grabs. Though before you bankrupt yourself on Big Macs, you should know the actual stats behind this game.

Gizmodo just ran an exhaustive breakdown by Canadian structural engineer Michael Ross on the odds of winning big at McDonald's Monopoly. As he explains, there are a few basic facts you need to know up front. Let's run through them quickly:

  • McDonald's printed 1,303,683,256 stamps. Those contain 128,769,022 food prizes (i.e. medium fries, Quarter Pounders, McFlurries) and 25,764,787 instant-win prizes (i.e. Redbox rentals, Target gift cards, cash). The rest are property pieces, which you need to collect into winning combos.
  • When it comes to the property combos, there are generally one or two pieces that are (relatively) easy to get and one that's much rarer.
  • Mickey D's claims you have a 1 in 4 chance of winning each time you play.

Of the food and instant-win prizes, some of the easiest to score are medium fries (odds: 1 in 9), a breakfast sandwich (odds: 1 in 23), and a month-long Hulu Plus subscription (odds: 1 in 58). But if you're running the property combo game, you're dealing with some way slimmer chances. 

Ross singled out the most elusive property in each of the winning combinations, and there are some eye-boggling numbers involved. Looking at the lowest-stakes prize ($50), you only need Baltic Avenue and Mediterranean Avenue to score. But while Baltic Avenue has a very nice 1 in 11 shot, Mediterranean posts odds of 1 in 651,842. That means you'd need at least 451,666 plays for a decent chance at winning. We could go through the rest, but just to make you depressed, let's go straight to the biggest prize: $1 million. To unlock that cash, you need to pick up Park Place (odds: 1 in 11) and Boardwalk (odds: 1 in 651,841,628). Which requires at least 451,822,158 McNugget purchases.

If you're serious about numbers, you can gather even more intel through Ross's entire post. Just don't get any ideas about counting stamps -- that bouncer Grimace is always watching.

Kristin Hunt is a Food/Drink staff writer for Thrillist, and would be unreasonably happy with a medium fries or Redbox win. Follow her to low expectations at @kristin_hunt.