McDonald's was forced to quietly give 15 random people $1 million each after an ex-cop rigged the chain's Monopoly giveaway (MCD)

  • McDonald's was required to give away $25 million to random customers in the aftermath of its Monopoly giveaway scandal. 
  • The fast-food chain was defrauded out of more than $24 million in a scheme in which a ringleader reportedly distributed winning Monopoly game pieces for a cut of the prize money.
  • McDonald's agreed to give away the equivalent amount of money to customers as part of a class-action settlement, which culminated in an under-the-radar event in which 15 random customers were each awarded $1 million from the chain. 

Fond memories of McDonald's Monopoly giveaway may have soured with the news that the game was rigged.

However, many customers may not have realized they missed out on another chance to be a millionaire in the aftermath of the scam. 

The story of how former police officer Jerry Jacobson masterminded a scheme to defraud McDonald's out of more than $24 million through its Monopoly promotion has been making the rounds after The Daily Beast ran an in-depth report on the incident.

Launched in 1987, McDonald's Monopoly game offered customers the chance to win up to $1 million if they collected the right pieces. Jacobson reportedly worked at the company that printed the game pieces and came up with a scheme in which he would provide people with the winning Monopoly pieces in exchange for a cut of the money.

RELATED:  17 things McDonald's employees won't tell you

17 things McDonald's employees won't tell you
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17 things McDonald's employees won't tell you

You can pay less for your favorite meal

Saving big on your favorite Mickey D’s order isn’t rocket science—and we know the best deals. Try ordering a sausage muffin ($1.29) and a side of round egg ($1) to make a cheaper version of the Sausage Egg McMuffin ($3.29). Other menu hacks: A sundae with a McFlurry topping is cheaper than a McFlurry, and ordering any sauce on the side is free of charge.


The ice cream machine really does break down

No, we’re not lying—there is a reason why it seems the ice cream machines are always broken. If the mixes for McFlurries and milkshakes are poured in the wrong sections, the entire machine could be out of commission for the day. You might be better off ordering a soda, instead.


There is no 'secret menu'

If you ask for an off-the-menu item, we might not know how to make it. Just tell us exactly what you want; we will whip up almost anything we have the ingredients for. Looking to shake up your usual order? This McDonald's has the best menu in the world.


Know your order before you reach the register

If you’ve been standing in a long line, be ready to order when it's your turn. Your indecisiveness can be a major inconvenience for us—not to mention the other customers waiting behind you in line.


Drive-throughs can't serve you on foot

Same goes for customers on bicycles and electric scooters. According to McDonald's policy, we can only serve people who are driving a motorized vehicle in the drive-thru lane. Trust us, it's for your own safety. Check out the craziest things drive-through workers have ever seen.


You might pay more for certain ingredients

Ordering double lettuce and double cheese on your Big Mac, for example, will cost you an extra 20 or 30 cents each. Luckily, you don't have to pay more for the secret ingredient that makes McDonald’s French fries so addictive.


Bring cash

Craving McDonald’s at 2 a.m.? Make sure you have cash on hand. Because the 24-hour locations must restart their cash register systems every night, there is always a certain time period when we can only accept cash.


You can get creative with the sauce

You won’t always love the sauce that comes with your order. But just ask us to substitute another sauce, instead—and don't worry, we won't charge you for it. Just make sure you're not eating at the most expensive McDonald's in the world.


We don't wear gloves -- but it's sanitary

Rest assured that employees are required to wash their hands at least once an hour. Gloves, on the other hand, can harbor a lot more bacteria than our clean fingertips. You'll want to be sure you're not ordering this drink ever, though.


Artisinal sandwiches are the most time-consuming menu items to make

So be prepared to wait a little longer for your order. (The chicken alone takes an average of eight minutes to prepare!) Same goes for Happy Meals; the toy, drink, and dessert take extra time to track down.


The egg McMuffins are made with real eggs

We physically crack the shells and use special rings on the grill to make them perfectly round. It’s the only breakfast item on the menu that uses real eggs, too.


You should always ask for a receipt

Certain people are paid to visit McDonald’s restaurants and rate their experiences online, and they are reimbursed for their purchase. So if a customer asks for a receipt, we are more likely to serve that customer first and give them the freshest food.


It's tougher to get hired than you think

Although our jobs might seem easy, a surprising number of applicants are turned down in the hiring process. So before you hand in your resume, make sure you have these soft skills employers are looking for.


We're not allowed to sit down 

Employees who work the drive-through window often remain standing for many hours at a time. All that standing can make our lower backs and feet ache.


But we get great employee discounts

Working for the famous golden arches has its perks. Popular companies like Apple, Via Rail,, and Payless all give us sweet discounts.


Avoid apple pies and breakfast burritos

Since they’re among the least-ordered items on our menu, they can stay on the shelves for a long time. Translation: They might not be as fresh as you think. By the way, this is the secret ingredient that makes McDonald’s apple pies so amazing.


But the beef is Grade A

This might surprise you, but our burgers are made of high-quality meat. The only ingredients we add are salt and pepper.



Jacobson's network won almost every prize in the Monopoly game for 12 years, until the scheme began to fall apart after the FBI received a tip in 2000. In 2001, more than 50 people were convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy in connection with the Monopoly scheme. 

McDonald's was not implicated in the scheme, but it pledged it would hold a new giveaway to return money claimed by Jacobson's network back to customers who had tried to win the Monopoly giveaway fair and square. Two weeks after the attorney general revealed the game had been rigged, the chain gave away $10 million to 55 random customers. 

However, the $10 million wasn't enough. As part of the settlement for a class-action lawsuit against the chain, related to the Monopoly scam, McDonald's agreed to give away another $15 million to random customers — $1 million per winner. 

"We made a commitment to return this money to our customers that should have been part of the prize pools,'' Douglas Freeland, then the US marketing director for McDonald's, told the New York Times in 2004. ''With the second giveaway, we will have done that." 

In March 2004, the chain quietly awarded 15 random customers $1 million each.

There were no Monopoly pieces and minimal marketing, as two customers had previously sued the chain arguing that promoting the giveaway would drive sales and negate its purpose. Instead, the winner was determined by picking a random time of day at a random restaurant, and awarding whoever walked in the door at that moment $1 million. 

"I didn't know what was going on," one winner named Erika Mendez told The Oklahoman at the time. "I completely forgot I was in there for food. They finally had to ask me, 'So what do you want?' I didn't take it too seriously. I thought, 'There has to be a catch to this.'"

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