Back to Africa Check

No, McDonald’s did not ‘allow’ creation or display of controversial McJesus sculpture

A meme circulating on Facebook shows Ronald McDonald, mascot of the McDonalds fast food chain, nailed to a cross in a pose reminiscent of the crucifixion of Jesus.

“A call to all Christians to boycott McDonald's for allowing this figure to be displayed,” it says.

The figure is a sculpture by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen, titled McJesus. It was part of “Sacred Goods”, an exhibition at the Haifa Museum of Art in Israel, which ran from August 2018 to February 2019.

The sculpture caused controversy and violent protests by Christians in Israel. It was removed from the museum in January.

‘We distance ourselves from this work’

It also caused outrage among Christians in South Africa.

But did McDonalds “allow” the sculpture?

McDonalds South Africa told the Pretoria East Rekord, a community newspaper, that the company wasn’t affiliated with the sculpture or the museum.

“McDonald’s South Africa is aware of the controversial artwork and notes that while it did not originate in South Africa, we officially distance ourselves from this artwork," said Daniel Padiachy, the company's chief marketing and communications officer.

“McDonald’s in no way endorses the use or representation of our brand in this manner.” He added: “We are a restaurant company and we do not engage in politics or religion.”

‘Not an artist’s job to ask for permission’

Leinonen, the sculptor, also said McDonalds didn’t “allow” the artwork – he hadn’t asked for the company’s permission.

“I have no idea if McDonald’s knew about the work,” he told AFP Fact Check. “Legally it is not an artist’s job to notify or ask permission from companies we might criticise or parody.

“I work a lot with brands and logos, and notifying all of their owners would be near impossible.” – Taryn Willow

Republish our content for free

We believe that everyone needs the facts.

You can republish the text of this article free of charge, both online and in print. However, we ask that you pay attention to these simple guidelines. In a nutshell:

1. Do not include images, as in most cases we do not own the copyright.

2. Please do not edit the article.

3. Make sure you credit "Africa Check" in the byline and don't forget to mention that the article was originally published on

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
limit: 600 characters

Want to keep reading our fact-checks?

We will never charge you for verified, reliable information. Help us keep it that way by supporting our work.

Become a newsletter subscriber

Support independent fact-checking in Africa.