Celebrities are no strangers to endorsement deals. From sneakers to shampoo, big-name stars have been earning big bucks to hawk brands for decades. Recently, there’s been an uptick of celebs lending their names to fast food chains, a trend that was big back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. McDonald’s celebrity meals are once again a thing, with everyone from Travis Scott to BTS getting in on the action. Here’s a look at some of the high-profile entertainers who’ve endorsed meals for the Golden Arches over the years.
In 1992, NBA legend Michael Jordan became the first celebrity to have a McDonald’s meal created in his honor. Called “The McJordan Special,” the value meal consisted of a quarter pounder with bacon and barbecue sauce, plus fries and a soft drink. The meal was only available in Chicago-area McDonald’s franchises for a limited time, making it hard for most of America to get their hands on. In fact, according to ESPN, it was so exclusive that an old bottle of the special BBQ sauce used to make the burger sold on eBay for close to $10,000 in 2012.
While LeBron James never had a meal named after him, the NBA superstar served as a McDonald’s spokesperson for more than a decade. After being tapped by the fast food chain in 2010, he starred in a slew of commercials over the years, including an ad for the restaurant’s Bacon Clubhouse sandwich. He also launched his own McDonald’s-exclusive Sprite flavor called “Spite 6 Mix” in 2014— an orange-cherry flavored soda with a custom bottle featuring his jersey name and number.
But in 2015, James decided not to renew his very lucrative contract with the fast food giant. In a 2017 episode of the podcast Kneading Dough (as reported by Forbes), the hoopster revealed that he walked away from the deal with McDonald’s so he could turn his attention to Blade Pizza, a pizza chain he began investing in in 2012.
Travis Scott had a burger named in his honor, the “Travis Scott Burger,” in September of 2020 — a Quarter Pounder topped with two slices of cheese and applewood smoked bacon. You could also get the “Travis Scott Meal,” which included the burger along with fries and a soft drink. According to Forbes, the burger and value meal were so popular that fast food giant had to deal with supply shortages of Quarter Pounder ingredients during its promotion. Forbes also reported that the “Antidote” rapper earned an estimated $20 million for deal —$5 million for the basic endorsement and another $15 million for merchandise sales.
Following the enormous success of the “Travis Scott Meal,” a new McDonald’s celebrity meal was created for Colombian singing sensation J Balvin. Released in October of 2020, the meal consisted of Balvin’s favorite MickeyD menu items — a Big Mac, French fries, and an Oreo McFlurry. While the “Safari” singer’s meal was not as big a blowout as Travis Scott’s, it did prompt McDonald’s to collaborate with the singer on a line of merch that was to include a McFlurry bucket hat and a pair of Big Mac slippers. Unfortunately, McDonald’s was forced to cancel production of the items in January 2021 due to “production challenges,” according to Business Insider.
In May of 2021, McDonald’s released its next celebrity meal collaboration with K-pop boy band BTS. Featuring a 10-piece McNuggets, French fries, and a medium Coke, the “BTS Meal” also came with limited-time sweet chili and Cajun sauces hand-picked by band.
Unsurprisingly, the McDonald’s celebrity meal was a massive success around the world. But not everyone was happy about the endorsement deal. According to Newsweek, the Asia branch of animal rights group PETA slammed BTS for teaming up with the fast food chain. “Partnering with McDonald’s on the BTS Meal shows that BTS doesn’t care about chickens who suffer and have their throats slit for McNuggets. Promote love, not cruelty,” the organization wrote in an Instagram post.
Rapper Saweetie is the latest big-time celeb to score a major McDonald’s endorsement deal. She’s also the first woman to lend her name to a McDonald’s celebrity meal. “It was an all-star team before me … and I’m the first woman,” the “Best Friend” rapper said. “So hopefully that inspires women to be the first of whatever they can be. You know, it’s hard to be the first of something these days. The fact that I’m the first woman that’s a part of the McDonald’s campaign. That’s just … it’s an honor.
The “Saweetie Meal,” which was just released this month, includes a Big Mac, a 4-piece Chicken McNuggets, fries, and a Sprite, plus Tangy BBQ and special-edition Saweetie ‘N Sour Sauces. The rapper says she put the meal together based on her favorite McDonald’s treats. “I think I’ve never been a salad orderer,” she admitted. “I wanted everything that I loved on it. I love the Big Mac. I love the fries. I love the McNugget.”