Photograph by Michael F. McElroy/The New York Times via Redux

McDonald's Famous Former Burger Flippers

  1. Paul Ryan, Republican VP candidate
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    Paul Ryan, Republican VP candidate

    At a rally in Lakewood, Colo., on Aug. 14, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan drew upon his experience working at a McDonald’s (MCD) restaurant at 16 to build a common-man image. “I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, you know, when I was flippin’ burgers at McDonald’s, when I was standing in front of that big Hobart machine washing dishes or waiting tables, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life,” the Wisconsin congressman said in his speech. Here’s a look at some other famous people who worked the fry machine or cash register at the Golden Arches.

    Photograph by Michael F. McElroy/The New York Times via Redux
  2. Rachel McAdams, actress
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    Rachel McAdams, actress

    McAdams’s first job was at a McDonald’s in Ontario, Canada, where she worked for three years. She told the Huffington Post that she was a greeter at the front of the restaurant because she was “slow.”

    Photograph by Macall Polay/Paramount Pictures/ Everett Collection
  3. Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.com
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    Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.com

    Bezos, who parlayed a retail book operation into the online juggernaut Amazon (AMZN), worked as a cook in a Miami McDonald’s during the summer of 1980, while he was in high school. He later attended Princeton University and founded the online merchant in 1994.

    Photograph by Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg
  4. Sharon Stone, actress
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    Sharon Stone, actress

    Before landing a modeling contract, the 19-year-old Pennsylvania native worked as a McDonald’s cashier.

    Photograph by Kris Connor/Getty Images
  5. Jay Leno, comedian
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    Jay Leno, comedian

    As a high schooler in 1966, Leno worked at his local McDonald’s in Andover, Mass. He told Oprah Winfrey he won the company’s talent show and decided to pursue comedy.

  6. Seal, singer
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    Seal, singer

    While 16, Seal worked at a McDonald’s for just two weeks, in 1979.

    Photograph by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
  7. Pink, singer
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    Pink, singer

    The singer worked at a Philadelphia McDonald’s for a year, later admitting that she was a less-than-model employee.

    Photograph by Angela Weiss/Getty Images
  8.  Star Jones, talk-show host/attorney
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    Star Jones, talk-show host/attorney

    Before enrolling at American University, Jones worked as a fry cook. She was later promoted to cashier.

    Photograph by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images
  9. James Franco, actor
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    James Franco, actor

    After dropping out of UCLA, the 19-year-old worked a McDonald’s drive-thru window for nearly three months. The Rise of the Planet of the Apes star told Entertainment Weekly he was “a vegetarian until working there.”

    Photograph by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
  10. Joe Kernan, politician
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    Joe Kernan, politician

    The former Indiana governor worked at McDonald’s in 1968, between graduating from Notre Dame University and enlisting in the Navy in 1969. Kernan, who was elevated from the post of lieutenant governor, served for two years as Indiana’s governor beginning in 2003.

    Photograph by Joe Raymond/AP Photo
  11.  Macy Gray, singer
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    Macy Gray, singer

    She worked there as a teenager, but McDonald’s gave Gray her first big break after college in 1996 when she starred in a commercial. She released her debut album in 1999.

    Photograph by David Livingston/Getty Images
  12.  Daniel Johnston, singer-songwriter
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    Daniel Johnston, singer-songwriter

    The singer-songwriter would give away tapes of his music along with orders to the customers while working at a Texas McDonald’s, according to MSN Money.

    Photograph by Jordi Vidal/Redferns via Getty Images
  13. Carl Lewis, Olympic athlete
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    Carl Lewis, Olympic athlete

    The track and field star, who has won nine Olympic gold medals, learned about speed from McDonald’s, where he worked when he was 16. In a 1996 commercial for the chain, Lewis said his job was his “first race around the clock.”

    Photograph by Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images
  14.  Andrew Card, chief of staff for George W. Bush
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    Andrew Card, chief of staff for George W. Bush

    Card worked for a McDonald’s in South Carolina in 1967, and came away amazed by its integration, he told author Cody Teets. "I remember thinking that McDonald’s was unique as a great equalizer. Wealthy and poor, black and white all came to McDonald’s and stood in the same lines and sat at the same booths.”

    Photograph by Charles Dharapak/AP Photo
  15.  Debbye Turner, former Miss America
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    Debbye Turner, former Miss America

    When she was 16, the beauty queen worked as a McDonald’s server in Arkansas, to begin to save money for veterinary school.

    Photograph by Hal Horowitz/WireImage