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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Ramon Antonio Vargas

US man extends record for most Big Macs eaten in a lifetime to over 34,000

Don Gorske surrounded by Big Macs in 2021.
‘Many people thought I’d be dead by now’: Don Gorske surrounded by Big Macs in 2021. Photograph: Guinness World Records

Don Gorske did not have many people betting on him to live into his 70s with his half-century-old habit of eating Big Mac hamburgers daily.

But cutting down his intake of the famous McDonald’s burgers to two a day (rather than his previous high of nine), skipping fries with his meals and walking six miles daily for exercise has not only helped him become a septuagenarian – it has also allowed him to extend his Guinness world record for most Big Macs eaten in a lifetime to more than 34,000.

“Many people thought I’d be dead by now,” the 70-year-old Gorske said on Thursday in an interview published by the organization which is known for maintaining a database of more than 40,000 world records. “But instead I’ve been … one of Guinness World Records’ longer-running record holders, so that’s pretty cool to me.”

It’s hard to overstate how central McDonald’s and its staple product have been to the identity of the retired prison officer from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. That’s the case despite longstanding warnings from experts who say regularly consuming fast food, including McDonald’s, can contribute to weight gain, obesity, heart disease and other health problems because the meals are densely packed with calories, sodium, sugar and fat.

Gorske recounted how his love affair with Big Macs began as soon as he had his first one on 17 May 1972. “In that moment, I said: ‘I’m going to probably eat these for the rest of my life,’” Gorske remarked to Guinness. “I threw the cartons in the back seat and started counting them from day one.”

He is not exaggerating. He has kept a receipt of every single Big Mac he’s eaten every day since that first one, and he’s retained each of the burgers’ containers.

Gorske said his mother grew worried as she saw his fascination with Big Macs blossom and tried to rein it in by making him promise to eat one non-Big Mac meal a day. But she gave up on making him fulfill that promise in 1981.

According to Gorske, “She said, ‘If they haven’t killed you by now, go ahead.’”

Gorske would drive to McDonald’s every day, order up to nine Big Macs and eat each of them at the height of his devotion. The one closest to his home displays his portrait on one of its walls, and he said he even proposed to his wife, Mary, in that restaurant’s parking lot.

But Gorske now usually goes to McDonald’s twice weekly, orders batches of Big Macs and – after eating a fresh one – takes them home to microwave when he’s hungry.

Gorske said he doesn’t stray very far from Big Macs, sometimes snacking on ice-cream, fruit bars or potato chips in the evenings.

The incarcerated people whom Gorske would guard at a maximum security prison in Wisconsin aimed “relentless” teasing at him if they ever saw him on television in connection with his McDonald’s habit. But he said his fellow guards were supportive, going so far as to sneak in Big Macs for him on the occasions he worked double shifts and couldn’t get them for himself.

Mary, too, supported him. “She has put up with a lot of obsessive compulsive things I do and hasn’t let my Big Mac thing get to her,” he told Guinness.

Gorske has kept himself in the best physical shape possible by foregoing breakfast, turning down fries or any other side serving with his Big Macs and walking a half-dozen miles daily.

Such efforts culminated in Guinness giving him his world record title for most Big Macs eaten in a lifetime in 1999. He had eclipsed the 25,000 mark in 2011, boasting to the Guardian then: “I plan on eating Big Macs until I die. I have no intention of changing. It’s still my favorite food.”

And throughout 2023, he ate 728 Big Macs – just below two daily – to push his total to 34,128.

No, he’s still not lost his appetite for the burgers, and yes, he has plenty of room for more, he maintained.

“When I like something, I stick with it all the time,” Gorske said to Guinness. “People who have watched me eating a Big Mac often comment that I look like I’m eating one for the very first time.”

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