The world’s largest McDonald’s is being constructed in the shadow of London’s Olympic Park. When completed, it will sprawl over 9800 square feet and is expected to serve 1.75 million meals during the 29 days of the Olympics. The restaurant will outdo the current record holder, a unit located on Sand Lake Road in Orlando.
Relax, Orlando: Greatness and distinction will still be yours, since the Olympic McDonald’s is a temporary installation—a mammoth fast food pop-up. It will be dismantled at the end of the Games, after spectators have finished stuffing themselves with empty calories.
Several Olympic officials have raised questions about the association between McDonald’s and the Games, particularly considering the current global epidemic in obesity. However, the link goes back a long way. The fast food giant has been an Olympic sponsor for 36 years (outdone only by Coca-Cola, which has sponsored the Games since 1928). Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, is aware of the conflict between fast food and physical fitness, and admitted that renewing McDonald’s sponsorship deal “was not an easy decision.”
More than likely, Rogge’s decision was swayed by the eternal appeal of the green stuff—and I’m not referring to the lettuce used on the salads of McDonald’s newer, healthier menu options. Sponsorships brought in nearly $1 billion during the four years preceding the Games. That’s a fraction of the take from broadcasting rights, but it’s also support that’s passed along to local Olympic committees.
In the meantime, here’s the tale of the tape for McDonald’s most popular meal (Big Mac, medium fries and medium Coke): 1140 calories, 38 grams of fat and 1295 mg of sodium. That’s half the recommended daily caloric intake for an adult, a day’s worth of fat and nearly and entire day’s dose of sodium.
What would happen if you took away the sponsorships, the broadcasting rights and the world’s largest McDonald’s? The Olympics would likely revert to what they were in ancient Greece—a showcase for the world’s most talented amateur athletes, who competed for the glory of being recognized as the best rather than for lucrative future endorsement contracts. Their achievements would inspire others to be physically fit, and they would promote the concept of individual excellence as something worth striving for. How much fun would that be?