France is celebrating Monopoly by selling sets with real money
Saint-Avold (France) (AFP) - There can't be a Monopoly fan in the world who has not dreamed of one day playing a round with real money.
Now, for the 80th anniversary of the game's first appearance in France, manufacturers are providing exactly that -- at least for 80 lucky buyers.
Only one set will land the major jackpot, in which every game note is replaced by real money -- for a total windfall of 20,580 euros ($23,268).
In addition, 10 sets will contain five real 20-euro notes, two 50-euro notes and one 100-euro note.
A lesser prize can be scooped in 69 sets, which will have five 10-euro notes and five 20-euro notes.
"We wanted to do something unique," said Florence Gaillard, brand manager at Hasbro France, which rolled out the prize sets from Monday.
"When we asked our French customers, they told us they wanted to find real money in their Monopoly boxes," she added.
The operation to switch the notes was carried out in deadly secret, in the small eastern town of Creutzwald, where the games are packed up before being shipped throughout France.
"First of all, it wasn't easy to get the notes. They had to be escorted discreetly," explained Gaillard.
Appropriately for a game where players try to cruelly bankrupt their opponents, Monopoly even roped in a bailiff to count and re-count the real notes.
"When they asked me, I was giddy as a child," said the bailiff in question, Patrice Wimmer, an aficionado of the game.
- 'Anyone can play' -
However, they discovered a problem: the sets with the real notes expanded the box ever so slightly, making the packaging out of kilter -- a tell-tale sign.
As for the weight, there was no discernable difference between the real notes and the fake money.
"The difference is marginal, unless you turn up at the shop with precision scales," said Wimmer.
The board game of Monopoly was created after the Great Depression in the United States and has been tearing families and friends apart ever since.
Fiercely competitive, the object of the game is to buy property around the board of varying quality, then build "houses" and "hotels" on one's property empire, charging opponents rent if they are unfortunate enough to land on your square.
The winner is the last person standing after everyone else is left penniless and destitute.
Even a short game can last several hours as the eventual winner grinds down opponents note by note until they have nothing left.
The longest game in history lasted 70 straight days, according to the Hasbro website.
"The rules are simple, everyone knows them, anyone can play," said Gaillard.
Hasbro says its money-spinning game is available in 111 countries and in 43 languages.
There are 500,000 sets sold each year in France alone.
The 80 lucky sets are hidden within 30,000 boxes of different types of game -- classic, junior, electronic and "vintage".