Globalism. Politics. Education. Clean energy. Bill Gates covered the usual range of substantive topics in an interview with GeekWire in advance of the release of Bill and Melinda Gates’s annual letter. But there was a meatier discussion to be had.
Less than a month after turning heads while standing in line at a Dick’s Drive-In restaurant in Seattle, the Microsoft co-founder was still chuckling about the online attention and worldwide reaction to his seemingly ordinary decision to step out for a burger.
Those who know of Gates’s love for local fast food were less alarmed, if not still delighted, by the sight of the billionaire grabbing a cheeseburger on a Sunday evening. But around the world, the random image captured by Paul Rich, and originally shared on Facebook, went viral in a big way.
“It’s mind blowing. You know, in Nigeria, it’s a gigantic story,” Gates said. “It broke through in an unbelievable way. If they had that WhatsApp thing where they try to watch things that are going viral, they would’ve had to block it because it would be like, ‘Oh, no, there’s a mob. It’s going toward Dick’s.'”
While some have spotted Gates at other Dick’s locations in the past, the popular consensus was that Burgermaster, the equally long-running local chain, was his preferred spot, mainly because Microsoft’s original Seattle-area office was around the corner from a Burgermaster in Bellevue, Wash.
“I’ve probably eaten more Burgermaster than Dick’s because of that,” Gates said, recalling the restaurant’s proximity to the software maker in the early 1980s. “I go to Burgermaster all the time, but it’s not, I guess, as photogenic as when I’m standing in a long line at Dick’s.”
Gates said Burgermaster might be a bit faster, and there is usually a line at Dick’s, which Gates said makes him visit “at a weird hour.”
When asked by GeekWire to answer to those who might think he’s a burger flip-flopper, as evidenced by the viral photo, Gates was ever the diplomat.
“I absolutely love both,” he said. “I’ll eat lots of different burgers at various times, but … they’re both pretty amazing. The one thing about Dick’s, I will say, the fries are pretty good. It’s hard to beat the Dick’s fries.”
As if the debate over Seattle-area fast-food supremacy needed another contender, Gates also got word that Ezell’s Famous Chicken was weighing in on his dietary habits.
With several locations in Washington state, along with a couple food trucks roaming around, the 35-year-old chain had some fun with Photoshop on the image of Gates at Dick’s, making it look like Gates was waiting in line for one of the trucks.
WOAH! Bill Gates, we didn't know you were such a fan of Ezell's Express. 🔥🍗In celebration we'll be at Microsoft…
“I’ve been looking for Ezell’s,” Gates said. “I haven’t run into one yet, but I’ll pull over when I do.” He wondered if they could bring one of their trucks to the Gates Foundation.
Next time he’s at the Dick’s in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, where he was snapped in January, all he has to do is head two blocks west to find the chicken joint.
Watch the video above to see Gates discuss this important topic, and listen to our full conversation in the podcast below.
GeekWire photos and video by Kevin Lisota.