Willie Wilson brings 3rd free fuel ‘blessing’ to Chicago-area drivers: ‘Call it buying a vote, but he bought mine’
Free fuel never seems to gets old. Thousands of Chicagoans woke up early once again to get their $50 worth of free gas in Willie Wilson’s third giveaway in two months.
For the third time in two months, Chicagoans across the city woke up early Saturday and waited in line for hours to claim their share of mayoral candidate and millionaire businessman Willie Wilson’s gas giveaway.
With his latest million-dollar fuel freebie, Wilson has donated around $2.2 million in fill-ups since his first giveaway March 17.
“We’re struggling, we’re all struggling and this is a blessing,” Regina Murray, 54, said as Wilson filled her gas tank at a Rogers Park Amoco station.
In contrast to the first giveaway, which was widely criticized for causing major traffic jams and enraging drivers, volunteers and police seemed to have lines mostly under control for the third go-around, at least on the North Side. Wilson was giving out tanks at 27 stations across the city and suburbs.
Participants received cards that confirmed their place in line — and many of them knew from experience to arrive early.
“We really need it. It’s hard times, really hard times out here,” Yolanda Hart, 52, said ahead of her second top-off.
Wilson walked around the station at 7201 N. Clark St. filling tanks, shaking hands and taking selfies with smiling participants.
“The gas prices are so tough, people can’t get to work,” he said. “So it’s a good use of the dollar to help a lot of families.”
But Wilson isn’t the only one in the gas giveaway game — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is pushing to get her “Chicago Moves” program through the City Council, which would hand out 50,000 gas cards worth $150 each to many Chicagoans.
Wilson criticized Lightfoot’s proposal during the giveaway Saturday, saying she’s a “liar” if she says her program isn’t a political response to his giveaways.
“I understand she’s supposed to be putting her name on the card itself,” Wilson said, referring to a mock-up of the gas cards that include the mayor’s name. “We’re not passing out any cards, we don’t have my name on my shirt or have a card we pass out. We don’t say anything about any politics at all. I think it’s wrong.”
Lightfoot’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
At least one participant suggested that if the fuel-up free-for-all is a political game, Wilson was winning.
“I think this is so much better than wasting money on a commercial,” said Joseph Kalady, who got in line at 5:30 a.m. “He showed the goodness from his pocket right to the people. People could call it buying a vote, but he bought mine.”
The Saturday giveaway will go until the $1 million is exhausted at locations across the city. Wilson said he’s planning on giving away extra fuel funds to seniors who can’t make it out to gas stations before dawn.