With gas prices surging to near $5 per gallon in some locations, long lines were reported at four-dozen gas stations across Chicago and Cook County on Thursday, with $1 million worth of fuel given away by philanthropist and frequent political candidate Dr. Willie Wilson.
Rogers Park resident Katherine Ellis compared the giveaway to winning the lottery.
“I was number one,” she said. “It will make money for me, because I drive Lyft and Uber and I deliver food for UberEats. It’s going to help me out a great deal.”
There were plenty of rideshare drivers in the lines, to whom a full tank of gas could potentially mean a bigger paycheck.
Edgar Valencia, who lives in Cicero, echoed similar sentiments.
“I’m just very thankful. It’s unexpected,” he said.
Each gas station was given up to $50 per customer, with thousands of dollars provided by Wilson’s charity to help pay for gas for thousands of Chicago-area residents.
“$50 worth of gas is going to help out,” Darnice Hightower said. “I just got back from vacation, and I go back to work tomorrow and let me tell you, this is gonna help.”
Wilson says that he wanted to do something good for those who need it.
“It’s a need. When people struggle like I used to struggle, it’s nice to do something good,” he said.
Wilson, a businessman who is expected to run for mayor of Chicago next year, says that his giveaway was not a political stunt.
“My intention in running for office is not why I did this,” he said. “We’ll get ridiculed for doing good, for doing bad, so let them criticize me for doing good.”