Winning at the annual McDonald's Monopoly game is partially a matter of being lucky, as well as a matter of understanding and maximizing the rules of the game, along with being happy with lower level prizes. The odds for winning the big prizes are astronomically small, but the odds of winning food prizes are quite favorable.
According to Bargaineering, McDonald's publishes the odds of winning every prize offered. To win the very large prizes, one must obtain the exceptionally rare game pieces such as Boardwalk. In 2013, the odds of getting the Boardwalk piece were 1 out of 3,050,412,898.
Game pieces are given away on designated McDonald's food items, and the odds of winning increase when players purchase more food items which contain game pieces. In particular the potato items, such as hash browns, are the most cost-effective for collecting game pieces.
It is also possible to mail in a self-addressed stamped envelope requesting game pieces for free. McDonald's supplies two game pieces in response to every request. While the rules of the Monopoly game forbid trading or buying game pieces, various message boards and auction sites offer game pieces, though usually the rare pieces do not show up here.
Some game pieces offer "Instant Win" prizes. These are by far the most common, typically with a one-in-four chance of finding one. Instant Win prizes include food items, Redbox DVD rentals and MyCokeRewards points, as well as a few higher-value prizes.