After nearly 50 years of partnership, cross-promotion, and the consistently weird dissonance of having one of the world’s biggest purveyors of grease-soaked beef sponsor some of its most fit and talented athletes, McDonald’s and the Olympics have parted ways. The fast food chain first teamed up with the international competition in 1968, delivering burgers to competitors, then going on to design elaborate international locations for hungry tourists, directly sponsor the U.S. Olympic Committee, and inspire that one episode of The Simpsons where Krusty Burger almost goes out of business because the 1984 Russian boycotts caused the U.S. to win basically every Olympic event.
Per CNN Money, it’s not so strange that the two entities have split up—after all, how many marriages can truly stand the test of time to reach that golden (arches) anniversary?—but the timing is a little odd. McDonald’s and the International Olympic Committee had a deal in place through 2020, although the parting has apparently been mutual and amicable. (McDonald’s will still act as a sponsor at next year’s Winter Games in South Korea, for instance, although it won’t do any Olympics-themed advertising in the U.S.)
McDonald’s isn’t the first big corporate entity to cut ties with the Games this year, either; Budweiser cut its sponsorship of the USOC, and Hilton and AT&T have both publicly declined to participate. It’s not clear exactly why corporate America is turning its back on the Games, although the crappy ratings NBC pulled down for last year’s events in Rio probably contain a clue.
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