Chicago businessman gives out $1.2 million in free gas

March 24, 2022, 2:16 PM UTC

Californians might be getting stimulus checks to help with the rising price of gas, but people in Chicago have Willie Wilson on their side.

The 77-year-old businessman, who owns a medical supply company, produces a gospel music television program and has run for several political offices, has pledged to give away $1.2 million in free gas to drivers. And he’s even helping pump it himself.

“I figured if I’m complaining about it myself, and people don’t necessarily have the income that I have, then maybe I need to do something about it,” Wilson told The Washington Post.

The philanthropic gesture started with a Facebook post, where Wilson pledged to donate $200,000 in gas to drivers at 10 stations around town, which agreed to temporarily lower their prices. Anticipating the crowds, Wilson hired 100 people (at $15 per hour) to help fuel the cars, joining them for several hours as well.

It was, as you might expect, a major traffic snarl, but the demand spurred Wilson to pledge another $1 million for fill-ups of up to $50 per vehicle.

That giveaway is happening Thursday at 50 stations around the city and its suburbs. Wilson has once again hired people to help (250 this time) and law enforcement officials plan to be on hand to assist with the traffic flow.

Gas prices in Chicago currently average $4.84 per gallon of regular, according to AAA, essentially maintaining record prices (non-inflation adjusted). (Premium gas goes for $5.70.)

Wilson, who has run for mayor of Chicago, an Illinois Senate seat and for president in 2016, says he’s no running for office and is simply hoping to use his success to help others. He has donated 30 million face masks to public service workers during the pandemic and contributed $1 million to help people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

Never miss a story: Follow your favorite topics and authors to get a personalized email with the journalism that matters most to you.