Special Report

McDonald’s Capitals of America

McDonald’s is the world’s largest restaurant chain by revenue, with more than 37,000 outlets in some 120 countries in every corner of the globe. Almost 14,000 of those are in the United States alone, where the chain’s Golden Arches logo, Ronald McDonald mascot, and slogans such as “I’m lovin’ it” are familiar to tens of millions of people. (These are the best burgers you can get at a fast food restaurant.) 

Which state has the most McDonald’s restaurants? To determine that, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data collected by NiceRx, a patient assistance program and medication access company, using numbers for total fast-food restaurants taken from the U.S. Census Bureau and tracking the nation’s ten most popular chains as determined by ScrapeHero.com. (Population figures are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.) We then ranked the states by their per capita McDonald’s population per 100,000 residents, lowest to highest. Ties were broken using the total number of McDonald’s restaurants in the state.

Click here to see the McDonald’s capitals of America

West Virginia takes first place as the country’s McDonald’s capital, with 5.8 locations per 100,000 people. Next come Arkansas with 5.7 and Kentucky with 5.6. It may be worth noting that these are among the poorest states in the country, and lag many others by various quality of life indicators. (All three are also high on the list of states where children are struggling with obesity.)

At the other end of our list are New Jersey and Rhode Island, with just 2.9 McDonald’s restaurants per 100,000 people. North Dakota and New York are tied for No. 48 with 3.1 each. New York is almost synonymous with fast food so it’s not clear why McDonald’s has a light footprint in the state. Interestingly, South Dakota is also among the states with the fewest units of the fast-food chain. Why the Dakotas have such a small McDonald’s population is not immediately apparent.