Free Gas in Chicago!: Businessman Donates Money for Fuel, Chaos Ensues

The price of gas is sky-high these days. This puts a strain on the budgets of drivers of cars all around the country. In Chicago, a local businessman tried to ease this financial burden for drivers by donating free fuel. Unsurprisingly, many Chicagoans wanted to take advantage of the free gas, creating a chaotic environment with cars lined up for blocks.

Chicago drivers get $50 in free gasoline

Drivers getting free gas in Chicago after businessman made donation for free fuel
Drivers get free gas at Chicago gas station | KHOU 11 via YouTube

We like free stuff. Considering the extremely high gas prices, paying no money to fill up the tank is an understandably enticing offer for Chicago drivers. In Chicago, as of this writing, the average price of gas is almost $5. The gas donation was from Willie Wilson, a Chicago businessman that made multiple runs for local and national office, as reported by Yahoo News

The free gas giveaway, which started on March 24, was at four Chicago gas stations. Each driver could get up to $50 in free fuel, no strings attached. The no-cost fuel is available until the total reaches $1 million. This is the second act of “gas generosity” from Wilson. The previous donation was for $200,000 on March 17.

Long lines and ‘bad tempers’ as drivers wait to get their free gas

For the first gas giveaway on March 17, drivers flocked in droves to the gas stations. This resulted in cars lined up for blocks with wait times as long as an hour. As described by Yahoo News, the promotion “led to gridlock, bad tempers, and resident concerns about the environmental cost of idling engines in their neighborhoods.”

For an interview with ABC7 News, Wilson stated, “I had no idea that it was going be this big, but when it happened, it just exploded. And I was surprised like everybody else. A lot of people didn’t get a chance to get the free gas in the last giveaway. They stood in line. I saw people in tears.”

In an attempt to avoid the chaos and problems from the first promotion, Wilson set some rules the second time around. To create a more orderly flow of cars, police directed traffic. Also, volunteers gave stickers to drivers waiting in line.

Wilson is a self-made millionaire that owned several Mcdonald’s restaurants. He also owns Omar Medical Supplies, a distributor of latex gloves and other medical and safety supplies and equipment. Additionally, Wilson produces Singsation, a nationally-syndicated gospel music television program.

Along with free gas promotions, Wilson showed his generosity in other ways. He previously “posted bail for people at Cook County Jail and donated money to homeowners to help them pay their property tax bills.”

Why are gas prices so high?

There are multiple reasons why gas prices are so high right now. After Russia invaded Ukraine, many countries placed sanctions on Russia, a major producer of oil. This caused oil prices to increase to record levels. While the United States imports a very small amount of oil from Russia compared to other countries, we’re in a global economy — and the increase in the global prices of oil affects the prices of oil in all countries.

The second reason for the high gas prices is the demand for gas is higher following the shutdowns of the pandemic. After being sheltered at home for so long, many Americans are ready to travel.

The third reason is the cuts to oil production. During the peak shutdown period of the pandemic, when demand for gas was low, oil producers in the U.S., as well as OPEC countries, significantly cut production. While production has gradually increased, it’s not something that can happen overnight. It will take more time before oil production reaches pre-pandemic levels. We’ll likely have to live with high gas prices for the foreseeable future. 

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