Get Free McDonald’s for Life Without Buying Anything

The McGold Card is highly coveted, but what does it really mean to wield power?

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Image: McDonald’s

Like Willy Wonka’s golden tickets, a small purchase from the McDonald’s app could award you a special golden pass of your own. Per an announcement from the company, McDonald’s is running its annual holiday promotion giving customers the opportunity to win the coveted McGold Card not only for themselves but also for three friends.

Those who know the legend of this elusive jackpot know that McGold Card holders are entitled to free McDonald’s meals for life. But since nothing in life is ever truly free, it is best to know what that golden ticket actually means for the select few who are in possession of it.

What is the McDonald’s McGold Card promotion?

The McDonald’s McGold Card promotion of 2022 is wrapped up in the company’s “SZN of Sharing campaign.” Beginning on December 5 and ending on Christmas day, McDonald’s will offer daily deals on menu items, merchandise drops, and the chance to win the McGold Card, all through the McDonald’s mobile app.

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To enter, participants must be at least 16 years old, make a purchase at any dollar amount through the McDonald’s app between December 5-25, and be enrolled in the MyMcDonald’s Rewards program. Each purchase will count as one entry, and only one entry per day is allowed for each participant. Winners will receive one McGold Card for themselves and three cards to give away to friends and family. The “for life” aspect of the golden card translates to two meals per week for 50 years. (Three winners will be selected, each of whom can give away three cards, for a total of 12 McGold Card recipients.)

But wait! We must always read the fine print, people! If you look at the italicized footnote at the bottom of the announcement, you’ll see that you don’t actually have to be a MyMcDonald’s Rewards member, nor do you even have to spend a single dime on McDonald’s food to enter the sweepstakes. Per the rules of the contest, you can click the link for the AMOE (alternative method of entry). There, you just enter your full name, email address, and date of birth, and confirm that you have read the rules, and you can submit one entry per day throughout the promotion without purchasing anything. Menu purchases don’t increase your chance of winning, as specified in the Official Rules.

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Has anyone ever won the McDonald’s McGold Card?

“Our fans have been fascinated by the lore of the McGold Card and if it really exists,” said Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s USA Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer in the announcement. “And now, we’ll make this McDonald’s legend a reality for our fans by giving them the ultimate holiday gift – a chance to win a card and then share access to it with three of their family or friends.”

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However, this is not the first time McDonald’s has dangled the possibility of a lifetime of free food in front of customers’ noses. In 2018 Business Insider reported that McDonald’s was running the same sweepstakes (though it was a summertime promotion, not a winter one) and noted other ways customers could try to earn themselves free McDonald’s for life. Business Insider noted at the time that franchisees also have the power to hand out McGold Cards (or something similar) allowing a customer to receive free McDonald’s for life from that particular location only.

A few celebrities, including Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, have been reported to be in possession of the fabled McGold Card. Buffet’s card is reportedly only good at locations in Omaha, Nebraska, but Gates allegedly has a card that works at all McDonald’s restaurants worldwide. No matter the potential restrictions, “free food for life” is a marketing tactic I can get behind. Burgers and fries twice a week might get a little old after a while, but I’d make it work.

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