A public service announcement for the people of France: Go to the mall. Go directly to the mall. Do not pass “Go.” Do not collect $200.
If you buy the right “Monopoly” set, you could be taking home a lot more than $200. In honor of the game’s 80th anniversary this year, its French manufacturers have replaced its traditional fake bills with real money in 80 boxes now on sale.
As if Monopoly needed higher stakes.
Agence France-Presse reported that 69 of the prize sets will include five 10-euro notes and five 20-euro notes, while another 10 will include five real 20-euro notes, two 50-euro notes and one 100-euro note.
For the final box, the entire “bank” has been replaced with real bills, making the game — which costs about 26 euros before shipping and handling — worth 20,580 euros, or about $23,000.
The notes were replaced during a covert operation last month in the small forest town of Creutzwald in northeastern France.
“It wasn’t easy to get the notes. They had to be escorted discreetly,” said Florence Gaillard, French brand manager for Monopoly’s manufacturer Hasbro.
Local bailiff Patrice Wimmer was on hand to supervise the counting — and re-counting — of the real bills.
“I was giddy as a child,” Wimmer added, somewhat spoiling the whole high-stakes game heist charade.
The 80 prize boxes — barely distinguishable from a typical set but for a slight bulge in the packaging — were shipped to stores around the country Monday.
According to Newsweek, the inspiration for the stunt came from a survey conducted during the run-up to the anniversary. When asked what players would most like to find in their Monopoly box, 50.5 percent of respondents said that they had hoped for real money. Another 26.4 percent wanted free hotel accommodations, and we suspect the remaining 23.1 percent asked for a wheel of brie and a nice bottle of wine.
“We wanted to do something unique,” Gaillard said of the idea.
It’s certainly less predictable than what Hasbro’s U.S. wing has planned — an 80th anniversary edition with a “vintage style board” to complement the 27 other variations currently available.