A retired prison guard ate his 25,000th Big Mac on Tuesday, 39 years to the day after eating his first ... nine.
Don Gorske was honored after reaching the meaty milestone during a ceremony at a McDonald's in his hometown of Fond du Lac. Surely McDonald's most loyal customer, Guinness World Records recognized Gorske's feat three years and 2,000 Big Macs ago, and the 57-year-old says he has no desire to stop.
"I plan on eating Big Macs until I die," he said. "I have no intentions of changing. It's still my favorite food. Nothing has changed in 39 years. I look forward to it every day."
The sign beneath the golden arches Tuesday read "Congrats Don Gorske 25000 Big Macs."
Before he ate No. 25,000, he showed dozens of onlookers many of the different styles of cartons he has collected over the years and other Big Mac-related stories.
Before biting into the sandwich, he said, "It's been seven years since 20,000. Same thing goes this year folks. You can't have the carton and it probably still takes 16 bites for me to finish a Big Mac."
The crowd erupted into applause.
Gorske, who appeared in the 2004 documentary "Super Size Me," which examined the fast food industry, looks nothing like one might expect of a fast food junkie. He's trim and walks regularly for exercise, and he attributes his build to being "hyperactive." He said he was recently given a clean bill of health and that his cholesterol is low.
Gorske's obsession with the burger — two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, for those not familiar with the once-ubiquitous ads — started May 17, 1972, when he bought three Big Macs to celebrate the purchase of a new car. He was hooked, and went back to McDonald's twice more that day, eating nine before they closed.
He's only gone eight days since without a Big Mac, and most days he eats two. Among the reasons he skipped a day was to grant his mother a dying wish. His last Big Mac-less day was Thanksgiving 2000, when he forgot to stock up and the store was closed for the holiday.
Gorske said he loves numbers and counting things and was inspired to start counting his burgers because McDonald's noted how many hamburgers were served on their sign.
He said he is probably obsessive compulsive and that he likes repetition and doesn't like change. He said he's kept many of the Big Mac boxes and receipts over the years, and has noted his purchases in calendars he's kept.
McDonald's says there are 540 calories in a Big Mac, which is more than a quarter of the calories a person on a 2,000-calorie diet would consume. The burger also contains 29 grams of fat and 1,040 grams of sodium, which are both more than 40 percent of the Food and Drug Administration's daily recommended value for a 2,000-calorie diet.
Tara Gidus, a registered dietitian in Orlando, Fla., said she wouldn't recommend Gorske's Big Mac diet, and that he's likely stayed relatively healthy because of good genetics and because he doesn't order a lot of extras, such as fries and sodas.
She said the Big Mac provides protein and grains, which the body needs, and that she would be "less concerned about the bad stuff in the Big Mac and more concerned about the good stuff he's missing," such as fruits and vegetables.
Gorske said he normally buys six on Monday and eight on Thursday and freezes or refrigerates them and warms them when he wants to eat them, so he doesn't have to run to the restaurant all the time.
Gorske said he likes other foods, including bratwurst and lobsters, but that he loves Big Macs and his wife Mary, a nurse, never has to worry about making him a meal.
"I really do enjoy every Big Mac," he said.
He said his wife jokes about ending his streak.
"She says ... when she has to put them in a blender, it's over," he said.