By Brad Edwards

(CBS) –– Chances are the board game “Operation” may be stuffed in your closet or you played it as a kid.

Now, the creator of that game, who lives in Chicago’s suburbs, needs his own operation. But he’s flat broke. CBS 2’s Brad Edwards reports.

John Spinello (CBS)

John Spinello (CBS)

As a University of Illinois sophomore, John Spinello’s college project became a prototype for the board game.

“The developer offered me $500 and the promise of a job,” he said. “And I never got the job.”

Spinello admits, he’s stopped playing the game himself over the years.

“After 50 years, you will tire, just a bit, of the thrill,” he said.

He did well by other means, until a few years ago.

The man who sponsored so many smiles found out he needed “major, major oral surgery,” after bankruptcy.

“You didn’t think that you would be our age and have to worry so much about going nickel to nickel” his wife of nearly a half century told CBS 2.

But thanks to an outpouring of love from the game’s many fans, more than $25,000 has been raised through a crowdfunding website to help Spinello pay for his surgery. The $25,000 target was hit by early Thursday morning. Another site,, allows people to send Spinello an encouraging note or purchase autographed copies of the game.

Now 77, the man who got 500 bucks for his pop culture icon says he’s feeling the love.

“A lot of feeling of love for the people that have played it,” he said.

“Operation” celebrates its 50th anniversary — as do the Spinellos.


Brad Edwards