Millionaire businessman and mayoral candidate Willie Wilson announced plans Tuesday for a third gas giveaway.
“We believe that we should be accountable to our next-door neighbor — for those of us who can afford to do so,” said Wilson, speaking to reporters at his home and office on the 49th floor of The St. Regis Chicago. “We will continue to give. This is not a political thing.”
The $1 million giveaway is planned for Saturday at yet-to-be-announced locations throughout Cook County.
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Wilson urged Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. J.B. Pritzker — “if they have a heart for the people” — to “waive” the taxes on the donated gas. He also urged Pritzker and Lightfoot to come out and pump gas with him Saturday.
The governor’s office didn’t answer a request for comment. The mayor’s office was nonresponsive.
It will be the third time Wilson has given away gas in recent weeks. He twice held gas giveaways in March, including $1 million worth through about 50 stations in and around the city.
Wilson jumped into the 2023 mayoral race on April 11 with a $5 million contribution to himself and a burst of goodwill generated by his gas giveaways.
Three years ago, Wilson won 13 of 18 Black wards, finishing fourth overall with 10.6% of the vote. In the runoff, Lightfoot won all of those wards — and all 50 wards citywide — after Wilson endorsed her over Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Tuesday’s announcement comes as Lightfoot is tweaking her own proposed gas and Ventra card giveaways as she tries to mollify opposition and pave the road for City Council approval.
Lightfoot’s latest proposal would, among other things, reserve 75 % of the $12.5 million gas card lottery for residents of South and West side neighborhoods defined as “high-mobility hardship.” The remaining 25% of gas cards would be distributed citywide.
That’s the same formula she wants to use for the $50 Ventra card giveaway.
Some have called her proposal a “political stunt” intended to one-up Wilson’s gas giveaways.
Contributing: Fran Spielman