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Remember when McDonald's lost big at 1984 Los Angeles Games?

News that McDonald’s has pulled out of its longtime Olympic sponsorship deal on Friday brings to mind another not-so-golden moment for the golden arches.

Before the start of the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, the fast-food chain announced a nationwide promotion that offered free Big Macs, French fries and Cokes every time a U.S. athlete reached the medals podium.

Then the powerhouse team from the former Soviet Union decided to boycott those Olympics, opening the way for the Americans to go on a winning streak.

Some McDonald’s locations in the San Francisco Bay Area reportedly ran short of hamburger buns. In Southern California, a corporate spokesman told The Times: “With all the gold medals that the U.S. is winning, we’re swamped … this is the most successful [McDonald’s promotion], but it’s also the most costly.”

On Friday, it was announced that the corporation had ended a four-decade partnership with the International Olympic Committee, pulling out of its current deal three years early.

“As part of our global growth plan, we are reconsidering all aspects of our business,” said Silvia Lagnado, the chain’s global chief marketing officer.

McDonald’s will retain some marketing rights through the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with restaurants at the Olympic park and athletes village.

“In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, we understand that McDonald’s is looking to focus on different business priorities,” IOC executive Timo Lumme said.

david.wharton@latimes.com

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