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Q: What Does McDonald’s Have in Common with the CIA?

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A: “Clowns wanted! We are looking for clowns to fit high profile, permanent positions. Must be willing to relocate.” If this ad seems a little peculiar, it’s because McDonald’s execs share an intense policy of employee secrecy with their less-delicious counterparts over at the Central Intelligence Agency.

Clowns who portray the company mascot, Ronald McDonald, are strictly forbidden from disclosing their identities. It’s also taboo for two (costumed) Ronalds to be in the same place at the same time. In fact, the only time they get together is at the biennial Ronald McDonald Convention, which, as you might imagine, is also very top secret. Of course, all of this helps keep up the image that Ronald, the second most recognizable figure worldwide after Santa, is a single, magical character.

Today, there are many Ronalds – an estimated 250 of the clowns worldwide, in fact. And while their average income is about $40,000 a year, the busiest of the clowns can bring in as much as $100,000. But what about the Ronald McDonald who appears in the company’s television commercials, you ask? Well, he earns a salary of more than $300,000 and must be booked a year in advance. When mental_floss did manage to get him to comment on his annual earnings, he only had one pat response: “I’m loving it.”

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