For athletes competing at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the games represent the culmination of years of training and sacrifice for a shot at glory. But what exactly do these dedicated individuals do with their time in the South American metropolis once their particular competition has ended? In the case of Australian badminton player Sawan Serasinghe, a celebratory feast at McDonald’s served as the perfect pick-me-up after a bitter defeat. The athlete made waves on social media when he posted a picture of his post-match meal consisting of four orders of McNuggets, six burgers, six fries and an assortment of other items. All told, the fast food smorgasbord amounted to more than 9,000 calories.
Serasinghe is far from the only Olympian to break his normally restrictive diet to enjoy the glow of the Golden Arches. In fact, the Olympic Village McDonald’s has had a line stretched far outside its door since the games began more than a week ago. Observers claim the queue can grow as long as a football field during the busiest rushes. While athletes have their own cafeteria located within the village, the subpar food and the hectic atmosphere drives many to Mickey D’s. “Normally, in the cafeteria, the food isn’t good,” said Cuban judoka Idaliz Ortiz. “In practically all the arenas, it’s the same. So the whole world always comes here for American food. That’s McDonald’s.”
The fast food chain’s dedication to sponsoring athletics has generated a lot of high profile press over the past few Olympic competitions. In the 2008 games, sprinter Usain Bolt claimed he ate 100 McNuggets in a single day before he got the gold. Swimmer Ryan Lochte enjoyed a similar diet at the competition, boasting that he ate McDonald’s for every meal before winning 4 gold medals. Besides its prime location in the Olympic Village, athletes also love McDonald’s for its price: all food is free for both competitors and coaches. Still, the Rio location has been so busy that managers recently had to place a limit of no more than 20 items per order. While the extra fat and calories may upset some coaches, others don’t seem to mind the dominance of Mickey D’s at the games. “Athletes are not expected to eat this,” said Mauritius weightlifting coach Jimmy Monien. “But as long as they stay in their weight category, it’s fine for me.”
- What does McDonald’s gain by offering free food to Olympic athletes?
- Should other fast food chains follow McDonald’s lead and develop a marketing presence at athletic competitions?
Source: Joshua Partlow, “Olympic Athletes Are Gorging Themselves on McDonald’s,” The Washington Post, August 12, 2016; Ali Sidiki, “Australian Olympian Celebrates His Rio Exit with 9,000 Calorie McDonalds Binge,” SB Nation, August 15, 2016. Photo by Usodesita.