Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson was one of the most electric players in the NFL during his time in the league and had an uncanny ability to make headlines for his behavior on and off the field. However, the diet he said he relied on to excel on the gridiron would probably come as a surprise to a lot of people.
You’re usually not going to last very long in the NFL if you don’t know how to take care of your body, and players have access to trainers and nutritionists who are tasked with ensuring they have all of the resources they need to get in (and stay in) the best shape possible.
As a result, a lot of guys go out of their way to treat their body like a temple (like Tom Brady, who had one of the more absurd eating routines you’ll ever encounter). That usually ends up being a multi-pronged approach, as most professional athletes have to consume an absurd amount of food to stay fueled while attempting to check (and avoid) various nutritional boxes.
With that said, some people are blessed with the kind of genetics that allow them to eat basically anything they want without any serious repercussions, and Johnson was apparently part of that lucky group based on his well-documented love of the McDonald’s food he largely subsisted on while playing.
Why Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson relied on McDonald’s while playing in the NFL
Johnson’s love of McDonald’s can be traced back to his childhood. During an interview with GQ, he noted it was a staple in his household growing up thanks to the fairly affordable nature of the fast food restaurant, saying:
“Burgers were 50 cents. Fries were 20 cents. Therefore, it was all we could afford when I was a kid.
You know what happened when I was little…when I ate McDonald’s? I never got hurt. You know what else I did as a kid when I ate McDondald’s? I dominated everything that I did, even in kindergarten.”
Johnson apparently never encountered any evidence that made him question the hypothesis he came up with at an early age, as McDonald’s remained a central part of his diet during the 11 seasons he spent in the NFL (and beyond).
When he spoke with Sports Illustrated in 2021, he offered some insight into his rationale by floating a somewhat medically dubious theory, saying:
“You play a barbaric sport. Your body needs to build a callus. How do you do that? By eating whatever you want?”
It might sound a little bit crazy, but it certainly worked out pretty well for the six-time Pro Bowler (who’s also convinced eating too many vegetables is the root cause of certain injuries).
His performance on the field speaks for itself, and Johnson was able to routinely dominate his opponents while getting pretty shredded in spite of the less-than-nutritious meals he was shoveling down on a regular basis.
Just how much does Ochocinco love the Golden Arches? Well, in addition to crediting McDonald’s for his success, he said the restaurant is his preferred location for a first date, once had an order delivered to a nightclub, and owns three franchises himself. He is truly a superfan.
It’s worth noting he’s not the only notable name who’s done pretty well for themselves with the help of McDonald’s, as Usain Bolt reportedly ate hundreds of Chicken McNuggets during his time at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Those guys are truly built different.