A Guide to the "Monopoly Millionaires' Club"

Where lottery winners played for the chance to win $1,000,000

Monopoly Millionaires' Club Set
Billy Gardell hosts Monopoly Millionaires' Club. courtesy Monopoly Millionaires' Club

"Monopoly Millionaires' Club" is a hybrid that combines a lottery game with a game show that ran from March 2015 to February 2016. There are a number of reasons why this format worked quite well for the show. The main reason is that the contestants had not been screened or chosen from a group of applicants — instead, they randomly won a trip to Las Vegas and a spot on the show through the purchase of lottery scratch-off tickets (a la "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory").

What's really cool is that these contestants were just as enjoyable as those who go through the usual game show contestant casting process.

For viewers, who didn't even need to know much about the lottery aspect of the show, the game stood on its own. This was especially true because of the enthusiasm of host Billy Gardell of "Mike and Mollyfame (with local side games hosted by Todd Newton) and the dynamic gameplay that originally featured 5 individual games inspired by the classic board game "Monopoly" per episode. 

How The Game Worked

The contestant pool was divided into five sections, each one named for a "Monopoly" piece (Cat, Dog, Boot, etc.). These sections were populated by those who had won the chance to be there in the lottery along with their loved ones. One at a time, one person from each section was called down to play a game to win up to $100,000.

The prize was then split in half with the rest of the contestant's section (half to the contestant that won and the other half split up between the rest of the section).

After these five games, one of the contestants would get the opportunity to play the endgame to win up to one million dollars.

The Games

The games themselves were similar to one another in nature, but not all were easy to play along with at home. That said, they went fairly quick and had the same kind of excitement to them as many of the pricing games on "The Price is Right." The added pressure from each contestant's section also made for a pretty high-stakes situation every time.

Some examples of the games included "Electric Company," "Ride the Rails," "Block Party" and "Advance to Boardwalk." In "Electric Company," the contestant faced a row of ten switches, along with a large board that held 25 bulbs. The bulbs were each worth an increasing amount of money except for the final, red bulb which caused a "blackout." Each switch would light up a different, random number of bulbs. The object of the game was for the contestant to choose switches and light up bulbs to get to the $100,000 maximum prize without lighting up the blackout bulb.

In "Ride the Rails," a board with the names of ten different railroad lines was presented to the contestant. with each one representing a train with a certain number of cars (each worth a certain dollar amount), an engine and a caboose. The contestant would choose a rail line and the corresponding train would start chugging along in front of him or her. The object of the game was for the contestant to stop the train before the caboose appeared, thereby banking the money for the cars that have gone by up to that point. The contestant could choose a total of four lines, and if he or she got to $50K, the prize was doubled.

"Block Party" featured a "Monopoly" board with eight colored property sets shown, each worth an increasing amount of cash, and a set of 12 cards with eight containing a set of properties, three with "strikes" and one with "Block Party," which would allow the contestant to choose one complete side of the board.

The contestant chose cards until he or she got all of the properties or three strikes. Each strike also did a bit more — the first was a freebie, the second cut the bank in half and the third meant game over. 

In "Advance to Boardwalk" the contestant was given a giant die and asked to roll numbers to advance along 14 spaces, each marked with an increasing dollar amount from $1,000 to $13,000 and the last labeled "Boardwalk." The trick of this game was that the contestant wasn't allowed to roll the same number twice and was only given one "roll again" token. If he or she could manage to reach the "Boardwalk" tile, the contestant would win $100,000. 

There were many more fun games on the show, but this should give you an example of how the creators utilized the original board game to inspire life-sized, fun-to-watch minigames featuring all of America's favorite memorabilia from the popular "Monopoly" franchise.


The Million Dollar Round

At the end of the game, each of the five contestants who won some cash during his or her game was eligible to play for the million dollars. The way they decided who got to play was pretty simple: it came down to whoever won the most money up to that point and was willing to risk it all to play for the big prize.

The game itself was based on a giant "Monopoly" board. The contestant started on "GO!" and got five rolls (with two dice) to make it around the board and pass "GO!" once again. If this happened the contestant won  $200,000 to split 50/50 with the section. However, if the contestant landed on "GO!" he or she would win the million dollars and the section would get to split a "jackpot." Regular "Monopoly" rules applied, such as a free roll for doubles and going to jail if you rolled doubles three times.

Along the way, the contestant collected money for properties landed on, could collect or lose money for landing on Community Chest or other event spaces and could win trips for landing on the railroads. These prizes came into play if the contestant didn't make it to or past "GO!" in the five allotted rolls.

The Bottom Line

"Monopoly Millionaires' Club" had a lot going for it in addition to the contestant pool. Billy Gardell was a really good host, using his experience in comedy to easily warm up to the contestants and make them feel comfortable. His desire for the contestants to do well was real and he's encouraging without going over the top.

The games themselves were fun to watch and they're pretty quick, keeping up the pace of the game.

I like that we didn't get the life stories of the contestants — instead, the show offered lots of gameplay. In addition, there was a lot of money on the line in every episode and that's always exciting!

So, should you invest the hour and watch an old re-run of "Monopoly Millionaires' Club?" I say a resounding "yes." Give this game show a try and you'll be streaming the entire two-season run in no time!

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Grosvenor, Carrie. "A Guide to the "Monopoly Millionaires' Club"." ThoughtCo, Oct. 17, 2017, thoughtco.com/monopoly-millionaires-club-1396937. Grosvenor, Carrie. (2017, October 17). A Guide to the "Monopoly Millionaires' Club". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/monopoly-millionaires-club-1396937 Grosvenor, Carrie. "A Guide to the "Monopoly Millionaires' Club"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/monopoly-millionaires-club-1396937 (accessed November 23, 2017).