Chicago’s Willie Wilson to hold $1 million gas giveaway Thursday

The entrepreneur and former mayoral candidate distributed $200,000 in free gas to appreciative Windy City dwellers last week.

Rising gas prices have inspired a charitable spirit in more than a few Chicagoans.

Senior pastor Kenyatta Smith of Another Chance Baptist Church led his South Side congregation to host three gasoline giveaways, all of which were wildly popular with residents of the city feeling the crunch at the pump. But it is millionaire businessman Willie Wilson who is likely to hold the largest gas giveaway in the nation on Thursday when The Chicago Tribune reports the entrepreneur and former mayoral candidate is planning to gift $1 million in free gas to Windy City dwellers.

Chicago motorists line up to receive free gas at a station in the Humboldt Park neighborhood Thursday, one of the 10 spots where businessman and philanthropist Willie Wilson allowed cars to fill up their tanks with up to $50 in gas. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As previously reported by theGrio, Wilson held a $200,000 gas giveaway last week. He made the distributions at 10 preselected gas stations Thursday morning, starting at 7 a.m., where lined-up motorists were allowed to fill their cars’ tanks with up to $50 in gasoline — first come, first served — until his maximum charitable amount was reached.

“The need among the community is so great. Soaring gas prices have caused a hardship for too many of our citizens,” Wilson said in a written statement announcing a second giveaway, per The Tribune. This week’s nearly 50 participating stations, he shared, have agreed to lower their prices so more people can get more gas.

Wilson’s March 17 giveaway meant long lines and traffic snarls, and some motorists were not able to participate, even after lengthy waits.

This time, Wilson has been working with the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications and Chicago Police Department, who are “coordinating with Dr. Wilson and his staff to provide city and department resources to alleviate traffic congestion and ensure public safety during his gas giveaway at participating stations located in the city of Chicago.”

Known as “Dr. Wilson” in Chicago, the millionaire businessman was an owner-operator of several different McDonald’s franchises and owns Omar Medical Supplies, which imports and distributes latex gloves and other medical and safety equipment. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Chicago in 2015 and 2019, then ran as an independent for U.S. Senate in 2020. Despite his political losses, he is greatly respected in the Windy City and has launched numerous charitable efforts, as theGrio previously reported.

A well-known philanthropist in the city, some of his critics have implied that Wilson’s gas giveaway could influence voters if he should decide to run for office again.

Despite that, Wilson will host his $1 million gas giveaway this Thursday, and people like Pastor Smith are grateful. He told The Tribune in a phone interview that church leaders like him and philanthropists like Wilson meeting the needs of their community is a matter of humanity.

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