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McDonald's CEO Defends Its Menu and Budget Website

Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

Earlier today, McDonald's CEO Don Thompson was interviewed on Bloomberg TV by journalist Betty Liu. Their conversation is sprawling, covering everything from the newish McWrap ("I think it's a great platform") to China ("a positive market for us"). Thompson also addresses the bad press (like this) that McDonald's has received for its questionable financial advice website. Spoiler alert: He doesn't see what all the fuss is about.

Thompson speaks to criticisms of the sample budget — which suggests heat is free and health insurance costs only $20 a month — which find that McDonald's implies workers need a second job to make ends meet. He claims that the sample budget has two incomes because it is designed as a two-person household: "The two lines, I'll say, for income were intended to say if you have a spouse or a significant other then there's two lines that you can put it in." Minimum wage workers don't need a second job, they need a second earner. When asked if he believes the budget reflects that McDonald's is "out of touch" with what it's like to work a minimum wage job, Thompson says "I find a lot of the comments ... I'll be kind, I'll say interesting." McDonald's, he says, is "about providing opportunity." On whether he thinks minimum wage should be increased, Thompson deflects: "I think we have legislators and many people that will determine whether or not minimum wage should be raised."

In a different interview segment, Thompson talks about how he lost weight despite eating at McDonald's nearly every day of the week. He claims to be "surprised" by people's skepticism at the role McDonald's plays in his diet. When asked whether McDonald's would continue to serve items like Big Macs in light of health concerns, Thompson answers: "I don't know what we'll be selling in ten years, but it will be what customers want." As evidenced by flagging salad sales, that will probably mean burgers. Below, the interview segments regarding the budgeting website and obesity:

Video: Thompson: McDonald's Stands for Opportunity

Video: McDonald's CEO: More Customers Counting Calories

· Thompson: McDonald's Stands for Opportunity [Bloomberg TV]
· All McDonald's Coverage on Eater [-E-]