McDonald’s is hemorrhaging French fries and it’s Kawhi Leonard’s fault

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In last night’s loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Toronto Raptors hit eight three-pointers. It’s bad news for Toronto fans (though not too bad—they’re still up one game on the Warriors), but probably pretty great news for Ontario McDonald’s locations. That’s because last year, McDonald’s signed a sponsorship deal in Ontario that guaranteed free French fries for all whenever the Raptors managed to sink at least 12 threes in a a game, and now the Raptors are killing it, and so all those McD’s are hemorrhaging free fried potatoes at a rate much greater than the chain anticipated.

It’s basically all Kawhi Leonard’s fault. This terrific, entertaining read from the Financial Post recounts the moment McD’s marketing head Chuck Coolen learned he was about to start flushing money down the toilet (“Coolen Googled ‘Kawhi Leonard.’”) At the time, however, he was more concerned that perhaps a trade with San Antonio for an injury-prone guy was going to tank his free French fry program. But boardman gets paid, and so do the people of Toronto. In fries.

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McDonald’s locations in Ontario are out some $5.8 million in free fries—two million orders of medium-sized fries, to be precise. The initial projection was 700,000 fries. Some of this is due to the fact that the Raptors hit more threes in in this regular season than the previous season (though not by much), and some of it comes down to the Raptors’ impressive and improbable post-season run. So far, the team has reached the 12-threes threshold 10 times in the playoffs and finals. But the real rub was that McD’s sorely underestimated how much Ontario residents love free fries.

Asked if there was concern at head office as it became clear the giveaways were dwarfing forecasts, Coolen said: “Yeah, of course.” But, he said, the concern was about franchisees’ ability to handle the demand, not the amount of free fries...

At Mike Forman’s four franchises in Whitby, Ont., managers staff an extra fry cook for the lunch rush on “free fry days.”

“The managers will prep for it: ‘OK, it’s a free fry day. Let’s go.’” Forman said. “In some situations, it is quite nuts.”

So congratulations, Ontario, you’ve kept a bunch of fry cooks quite busy. The full Financial Post story is well worth your time, if only for the anecdotes about a bunch of fast food muckety-mucks trying to learn about three-point statistics in the NBA by googling stuff.

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Allison Shoemaker

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves television, bourbon, and dramatically overanalyzing social interactions.