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Jay Leno once bought a Happy Meal at McDonald's with coupons

Jay Leno drives his McLaren to the 'Best Of The Best: Los Angeles'
Chris Farina | Getty Images
Jay Leno drives his McLaren to the 'Best Of The Best: Los Angeles'

Jay Leno has millions in the bank, but he doesn't always spend like a millionaire.

Besides his auto collection, which consists of vehicles like the legendary McLaren F1, the comedian is pretty frugal. He hates spending on clothes and still hasn't touched a dime of his "Tonight Show" money.

"I'm not a big splurge guy," Leno tells CNBC Make It, partly because he had Depression-era parents: "They just frightened me to death, saying, 'You gotta save every penny!'"

Perhaps that's why the self-made millionaire still uses coupons, even for fast food.

"McDonald's sent me these Happy Meal coupons. A bunch of Happy Meal coupons," he recalls. "So one day I'm in the McLaren and I'm going to McDonald's. I say, 'Give me two Happy Meals.' And I give them the [coupons]. And the guy says, 'Sir, we only allow one meal. One coupon per visit.' I say, 'OK, that's fine. I'll pay for it.'"

The employee has him pull over to explain that they normally don't allow two coupons per visit but are willing to make an exception.

"So now I pull over in this McLaren and people are coming around and looking at the McLaren," Leno continues. "Now I look like the cheapest guy in the world driving this multimillion-dollar McLaren and I'm trying to get a free hamburger."

Leno's not the only one-percenter who values a good fast food deal. Billionaire Warren Buffett once bought Bill Gates lunch at the Golden Arches with coupons.

In Bill and Melinda Gates' 2017 annual letter, which they addressed to longtime friend Buffett, Bill tells the story of that particularly economical lunch: "Remember the laugh we had when we traveled together to Hong Kong and decided to get lunch at McDonald's? You offered to pay, dug into your pocket, and pulled out … coupons!"

That fast food lunch wasn't an anomaly: Both Buffett and Gates frequent McDonald's enough that they've earned the chain's coveted Gold Cards. In a 2007 interview with CNBC, Buffett shared the contents of his wallet, including the card, which lets him eat for free at any McDonald's in Omaha for the rest of his life.

"So that's why the Buffett family has Christmas dinner at McDonald's," he laughs. "It explains a lot of things."

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