One man, 39 years, 25,000 Big Macs

May 16, 2011 at 4:10 PM ET

UPDATE: Gorske eats his 25,000th Big Mac

Not many people can measure their lives in Big Macs.

Don Gorske, however, remembers the day 39 years ago when he had his first one at a McDonald’s in Fond du Lac, Wis. Tomorrow, he’ll walk into the same McDonald’s and reach a new milestone — 25,000 Big Macs.

Here's Don Gorske tucking into his 18,000th Big Mac, in 2001.
Keith Vandervort / ASSOCIATED PRESS
Here's Don Gorske tucking into his 18,000th Big Mac, in 2001.

“When I was 19, I remember finishing my first 1,000 and thinking ‘Man, I’m going to be old and retired by the time I hit 25,000,’” said Gorske. “Now, I’m actually getting up in age and I’m retired, and tomorrow I’m going to do it.”

Gorske, 57, is famous for appearing in Morgan Spurlock’s documentary "Super Size Me." He has averaged about two Big Macs every day since he ate his first one on May 17, 1972, keeping track of his numbers by marking calendars and saving McDonald’s cartons and receipts inside a fireproof lockbox.

This past weekend he saved his appetite by only eating one Big Mac a day (plus a bratwurst) so that he could reach or surpass the 25,000 mark surrounded by all of his friends at exactly 3:20 p.m. He was originally planning to retire on the same day, but the recent labor battle in Wisconsin forced him to retire a couple of months earlier than expected from his job as a scheduling officer at the Waupun Correctional Institution.

Why is 25,000 such an important number? “It made me realize I’m never going to hit 50,000, I’m going to be long dead before then,” he said. “My wife likes to say ‘When I have to put them in a blender, it’s over.’ ”