Monopoly announces launch of Jackson Hole-themed edition

But will local Teton County businesses pay thousands to get a space on the world-famous board?
Mr. Monopoly holds a sign outside the Cowboy Bar announcing the new Jackson-themed edition of the board game. It's slated to hit the market early next year, after local businesses sign on to sponsor spaces on the board. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

You’re likely familiar with Jackson’s town square. The archways on each of its fours corners are made of elk antlers stacked on top of each other as if it were the entrance to the West itself. It’s a common picture stop for tourists — the type of scene you’d see on a postcard or a T-shirt.

Now, imagine that, but with the cane waving and mustached Mr. Monopoly parading around the square. 

It was the official announcement of a special Jackson-themed edition of the Monopoly board game. That means local businesses could replace traditional spaces like “Baltic Avenue” and “Boardwalk.” 

A local actor from the Jackson Hole Playhouse parades around the square dressed in the Mr. Monopoly custom. The actor who was supposed to wear the costume quit last minute. The playhouse actor stepped up to the plate just 30 minutes before, since he already had the black tuxedo. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

“Who doesn’t know the board game Monopoly,” said Aaron Green, a sales representative with Top Trumps USA (no relation to Donald Trump) — the company licensed to make these special editions.

During the May 9 announcement, Green stood next to the local actor dressed in the Mr. Monopoly costume (who wasn’t allowed to comment) and said the Jackson edition would be one of over 30 in cities and towns throughout the U.S. 

“We decide on a new city, one by one, start doing a ton of research on the city,” Green said. “Is it a big tourist location like here, or Lake Tahoe or Napa?”

Those are just a few of the places which have seen special editions of this kind, in addition to Park City, the Hamptons and Corpus Christi to name a few more — all listed for $45 dollars on their website. 

Green’s company is asking community members to chime in on what should be featured in the Jackson game. He said he has already gotten over 500 emails from residents and tourists, as well as local businesses interested in being featured.

But for that to happen, they could have to pay in the thousands — something the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce is skeptical of. 

“We have chosen not to participate or support this gaming edition proposal,” the chamber’s CEO, Rick Howe, wrote in email to local businesses on May 10.

Howe told KHOL that Top Trump USA didn’t follow the chamber’s standard protocol for awarding endorsements, which includes answering questions about the exact cost to businesses and how this fits the community mission. He said he heard from local retailers and hoteliers that it could be about $20,000 a space.

“If you’re selling space at $20,000 a piece, there should be some strong community benefit in there, you know, return on that investment,” Howe said.

According to Green, these kinds of critiques are nothing new. He said the company doesn’t typically disclose sponsorship pricing over email before explaining the context of the project, but emphasized the power of partnership with a brand known around the world.

Mr. Monopoly holds one of four teaser squares — resembling potential board game spaces — in the Jackson Town Square. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

We would be silly to not charge sponsorship to be on a Monopoly game,” Green said. “This isn’t a brand new board game that no one knows about yet. We have to turn down people. We turn down people all the time because there’s only 22 spaces.

He said the game brings a “massive benefit” to the local economy, since it’s ultimately sold in local stores. That could include Teton Toys, right off the town square. 

“I think it would be a great idea,” said Malayna Murrelll, who works at the toy shop. “I definitely think it would be something that we could carry. I personally think it would be something fun that would definitely sell to our clientele.”

The game is slated to come out in January or February 2025, with a big grand reveal party in Jackson. In the meantime, the company is negotiating with businesses to decide which ones will be featured on the board.

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About Dante Filpula Ankney and Hanna Merzbach

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