McDonald’s will no longer be a “Proud Sponsor of the Olympic Games.”

In a surprise move, after 41 years of partnership, the world’s largest fast-food chain is ending it’s sponsorship of the world’s largest athletic competition — three years earlier than originally planned.

McDonald’s Corp. was set to sponsor the Olympics through the 2020 Games, but according to a joint press release from the International Olympic Committee and the fast-food chain, McDonald’s executives have decided to take their business in a different direction.

“As part of our global growth plan, we are reconsidering all aspects of our business and have made this decision in cooperation with the IOC to focus on different priorities,” McDonald’s global chief marketing officer Silvia Lagnado said.

AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
In this Tuesday July 31, 2012 photo, Olympic athletes queue up at the McDonalds inside the dining hall at the Olympic Village in London.

The financial details weren’t released, but the contract extension that McDonald’s signed in 2012 was worth about $200 million, ABC News reported.

“We have mutually agreed with McDonald’s to part ways. I would like to thank our friends at McDonald’s on behalf of the IOC for the commitment the company has shown to the Olympic Movement over many decades,” said Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC’s television and marketing service said.

The McDonald’s and IOC relationship dates back to the 1976 Montreal Summer Games, when McDonald’s first signed on as sponsor. McDonald’s became a top-tier partner in 1996.

Top-tier sponsorship gives advertisers exclusive worldwide marketing rights and permission to use the Olympic rings in advertising. The highest level brought in more than $1 billion in revenue between 2013 and 2016, the Chicago Tribune reports of the IOCs financial statements. Other partners at this level include Coca-Cola, Alibaba, Dow Chemical, Samsung, Toyota and Visa.

The IOC said there were no plans for an immediate replacement for the fast-food giant.

The agreement will end the partnership immediately, but McDonald’s will make good on it’s commitment to the 2018 Olympics Winter Games deal in Pyeongchang, South Korea and will operate the Olympic Park and Olympic Village restaurants.


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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.