Let’s get this out of the way first: you are not going to win the million-dollar top prize in Albertsons Market’s annual “Monopoly Collect and Win Game” that began this week. But you know that already (especially if you don’t even have an Albertsons nearby).
But you can’t win if you don’t play. So Albertsons shoppers are already collecting game pieces and hoping for the best. That’s even though the odds of winning are astronomical, to say the least.
Back in October, customers of Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Supermarkets and its affiliates were upset when their stores sponsored a similar Monopoly sweepstakes. The advertised top prize was a $250,000 “dream home”, but the biggest prize actually awarded was a $30,000 motorcycle. It seems not everyone read the fine print in the contest rules – not only was there no guarantee that all prizes would be awarded, but the chances of winning a big prize were a lot steeper than they appeared. The odds of winning the “dream home” were listed as 1 in 115 million, but those were just the odds of obtaining the “one rare game piece” needed to win. The odds of getting the other “semi-rare” game piece needed to make a match were 1 in 5000. Together, that made the odds 1 in 575 billion – similar odds to Albertsons’ game.
Turns out you’d be more likely to get hit by lightning half a million times, or win the Mega Millions lottery 3,000 times. You’d also be 5,000 times more likely to get crushed to death by a vending machine. We poked fun at Roundy’s at the time, with the headline “Supermarket Offers Prizes It Has No Intention of Actually Awarding”.
But wait. It turns out that it is possible to beat the odds – without getting hit by lightning or crushed by a vending machine at all. Someone actually won Albertsons’ contest last year.
20-year-old Melissa Varela of El Paso, Texas won the grand prize in May 2012, the first and only million-dollar winner since the contest began in 2009. Varela told the El Paso Times that she was a regular shopper at Albertsons, and once she got into the game, she started coming up with excuses to go and collect more tickets.
The odds of her winning were only slightly better than the odds of Roundy’s coming up with a winner – 1 in 407.5 billion.
So don’t give up. Varela didn’t – even after winning, she said she was so into the game, she wanted to keep on playing. No word from her on whether she’s playing again this year. But consider these odds – her chances of winning the million dollars two years in a row are 1 in 166 sextillion – about the same odds as, well, nothing you can even imagine.
Kind of makes your chances seem a whole lot better now, huh?
(February 2014 update: be sure to check out details on this year’s contest: “Albertsons’ Monopoly Gets Bigger, Richer – and Even Harder to Win“).