A Hilton Head Island resident has more than a pile of fake, pastel-colored money to show for participation in a fast-food Monopoly promotion. Jennifer Beck won $10,000 in real cash in McDonald's contest.
Beck bucked odds of 1 in 518,330,833 to collect three game pieces -- St. James Place, Tennessee Avenue and New York Avenue.
She collected the rarest piece, Tennessee Avenue, on Oct. 4 during a purchase at the McDonald's on New Orleans Road on Hilton Head. The final piece, New York Avenue, arrived in the mail two days later after Beck sent five self-addressed stamped envelopes to McDonald's in return for five game pieces.
"I was so excited," she said. "I cross-checked it and had my husband come over and make sure I was reading it right."
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Only 20 of the $10,000 prizes are available in the contest, which also includes instant-win pieces for food and gift certificates and collect-and-win prizes for trips or $1 million.
Beck has played in the annual monthlong Monopoly promotion for years, getting more serious about it after winning $100 about five years ago.
The stay-at-home mom, her two daughters and husband all get involved in the contest. Emily Beck, 16, said she brings home pieces if she gets McDonald's for dinner after working at Surf's Up. Tessa Beck, 10, has helped her mom enter codes online for instant-win prizes.
Jennifer Beck keeps track of the pieces she collects on the game board provided by the restaurants. She also keeps a list of pieces she needs to complete a set.
But she wasn't as organized as usual when the winning piece arrived. The contest had just started a week before, on Sept. 25.
"It wasn't long at all," she said. "I went maybe three times to get a drink. I might have gotten french fries, too."
Beck said she's not sure what she will do with the money.
Her daughters have some ideas.
Emily thinks a family trip to New York City would be nice, and Tessa would like a cellphone and a bean bag chair. The two also joke about a more outlandish use -- getting a giant tortoise as a pet.
"I'm not quite sure yet," Jennifer Beck said. "Maybe we'll do a few little treats, and I'm hoping to make a nice Christmas for the kids."
Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.