Warren Buffett and Bill Gates (and Rob Lowe) have a McDonalds gold card, Hugh Laurie has a Burger King crown card and Ed Sheeran has a Nandos black card. But good luck getting your hands on your own

It must be strange being rich and famous: just when you can afford anything, everyone gives you stuff for free. So it is with the gifting suites that await the stars backstage at major awards shows; so it is with boots for footballers and first-class travel for chief executives. And, we now learn, so it is for Rob Lowe at selected branches of McDonalds in the Santa Barbara area.

Lowe dropped this bomb on the Jimmy Kimmel show last week. He is the proud owner of a McDonalds gold card, he explained, because his mates dad invented the Egg McMuffin. It is a lavishly appointed card, featuring the golden arches embossed on a golden backdrop and the grateful legend Thank you for your friendship, which entitles ROB (no surname included, which seems risky) to all the McDonalds he would like, so long as he would like it in a Santa Barbara franchise, for one year. Lowe says he hasnt used it yet, but intends to have a blowout at Thanksgiving.

Rob Lowes McDonalds gold card. Photograph: YouTube

At first blush, this appears to be the high-water mark of modern celebrity as sure a signifier of status as a very small dog in a handbag in the early 00s. But look a little closer. Rob Lowe has something, yes, but comparatively speaking, its a St Bernard in a binliner. Warren Buffett says that his gold card lets him eat anywhere in Omaha. For life. And when Bill Gates hears about either of those guys, he presumably sniggers into his extraterritorial Big Mac: according to Buffett, Gatess lifetime gold card is valid worldwide. Then there are the Burger King glitterati, the 12 members of the crown card club, including Jennifer Hudson, George Lucas and Hugh Laurie. Hats off, in particular, to Laurie, who persuaded the companys PRs to get him a card by the fiendish mechanism of pretending he already had one [].

Disappointingly, a McDonalds spokeswoman says that in Britain, no such system exists. (Then she suggests, as if its any consolation whatsoever, that individual franchisees might give a celebrity a free meal sometimes.) Still, we hold our own. The premium British fast-food freebie status symbol is, of course, the Nandos black card, also known as the high five, which the company cannily keeps just interesting enough to be discussed in articles such as this one by refusing to confirm its existence. In this world, Bill Gatess alter ego is probably Ed Sheeran, who broke the code of silence by posing for a photo with his and, with Example, improvised a musical paean to piri-piri chicken, Nandos Skank. (In one interview, without quite saying it, Example seemed to imply that he has one too, although so would I, if anybody asked me.) Relative nobody Rob Lowes counterpart, meanwhile, is Tinchy Stryder, who once had a black card, loved it, lost it, rapped about it in the hope that he would be sent a new one, then went quiet on the subject. Calls to Stryders publicist attempting to confirm that he is out in the cold were, sad to say, not returned.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2015/nov/17/free-big-macs-for-life-billionaire-rob-lowe-mcdonalds-gold-card