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Report: Raptors cost McDonald’s millions in free fries giveaway

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While it was surely seen as a good idea at the time, because of the proficiency of the Raptors throughout the season, McDonalds has given away a lot of free french fries.

NBA: Finals-Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

If you care about the fortunes of McDonald’s, then this news may arrive as something of a worst-case scenario.

According to a report from Jake Edminston at the Financial Post, McDonald’s, that venerable fast food company responsible for, well, a lot of stuff, has been forced to give away millions of dollars worth of free french fries because of the Toronto Raptors.

The piece goes on to document how exactly this happened. As we all know, McDonald’s has a giveaway offer for one medium-sized order of french fries every time the Raptors hit 12 threes in a game. (Last season they averaged 11.8 per game, so it seemed like a solid threshold.) It should be noted that anyone looking to redeem their fries has to install the McDonald’s app first, so it’s not like the company is getting nothing out of the deal.

In any case, the free fries deal was made in advance of the Kawhi Leonard trade — a completely shocking turn of events in Raptors history — and the people in charge of marketing apparently did not even know who he (and presumably by extension, Danny Green) was. So McDonald’s decided not to change their promotional plan, and stuck with the 12-three threshold. The rest, as they say, is history. This season, with the Raptors’ long run into the NBA Finals as a much better three-point shooting team, the dollar figure attached to the amount of fries they’ve given away stands somewhere north of $5.8 million. According to Edminston’s piece, 80,000 orders were given away after Game 1 of the Finals alone. [Extremely Kramer from Seinfeld voice] That’s a lot of potatoes.

Of course, the real winner in all of this is Pizza Pizza, the Canadian-based pizza makers who were once synonymous with the Raptors. (I recently heard their food described as “good bad pizza” which is a fitting tribute.) While Pizza Pizza’s pizza is still prevalent in the Scotiabank Arena, they managed to wiggle out of any and all giveaway obligations. (Or were they muscled out by McDonald’s? Perhaps I’ve said too much.)

As you’ll recall, Pizza Pizza once offered a free slice every time the Raptors cleared 100 points. This came to be an extremely embarrassing thing — in true Raptors fashion — when fans started cheering for the team in a loss. So, wisely, they changed the promotion to be only in cases of Raptors’ victories. Unfortunately for Pizza Pizza, because of the pace-and-space era, scoring 100 points — much like hitting 12 threes — became much less of a big deal. The Raptors only failed to clear 100 points nine times this season. Think about how much free pizza would have been given away had that offer still been in place.

All of these promotions were a lot easier back when the Raptors were bad, and the NBA as a league played at a much slower pace, is my point. Now here’s hoping McDonald’s, one of the biggest corporations in the world, will continue to be OK.