Chicago Businessman Donates $200K in Free Gas, Causes Traffic Jams

by Matthew Memrick

A Chicago businessman’s kind act of donating $200,000 in free gas caused traffic jams on Thursday.

Willie Wilson hoped to take away some high gas price pain that his fellow citizens have experienced lately. Fox 32 reported on the free gas fun.

Ten gas stations in the area began giving out gas at 7 p.m. on Thursday. Wilson’s giveaway went until the $200,000 was exhausted.

Those gas stations also lowered their gas to serve more vehicles. Those early birds got $50 worth of gas with prices about 25 percent lower than average. 

According to AAA, a regular grade gallon of gas averaged $4.84 in the Illinois city. Last year, it was $3.28 at this time. 

Chicago Businessman A Self-Made Man, Political Firebrand

According to the Chicago Tribune, Brown came up with the idea for the free gas after a recent trip to the pump. 

“If I take notice of high prices … what about people not in the income bracket I’m in?” Wilson told the Tribune.

The kind act was not without some issues. The traffic jams became troublesome for everyone, making for a Black Friday-like atmosphere at times for some. Others had an easier time and were grateful to Brown for his generosity.

The Chicago Tribune said Wilson has run for mayor twice and US senate once. His political views run the spectrum, and he’s also voted for former President Donald Trump.

Wilson came from Louisiana, the son of a sharecropper. He went on to own several McDonald’s franchises and a plastic glove distribution business.

The businessman told the newspaper that “Chicago is (his) town.”

Wilson Helps Gas Stations, Too 

The businessman hired about 100 people for $15 an hour to give out the gas cards at ten gas stations.

Berwyn resident Robbie McGlory said his gas station experience went “really smooth.” Amazingly, Wilson was there to pump her gas. The woman observed some folks cutting in line and a few issues, but Wilson and the gas station did their “best to keep it organized.”

Other customers didn’t have the same experience.

Humboldt Park resident Chantine Adams said she sat in line for about an hour before almost getting to the front. A police officer rerouted her and sent her to another gas station when she got to that point. But she still got Wilson’s generosity.

 “It really upset me … I was already on an empty tank of gas,” Adams told the newspaper. “I was literally driving the last of my gas to get there. It’s already hard with everything going on here in Chicago, the economy, the gas prices, rent still have to be paid.”

The businessman said he wished he had more money for the gas giveaway and threw out he could have another one on March 31. This time, Wilson said, it would involve more gas stations.