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November 1, 2021

Mark Zuckerberg famously started Facebook in his Harvard University dorm.

But before he even went to college, Zuckerberg’s father Edward offered his son an alternative — a future as a McDonald’s franchise owner. 

“My dad, funny enough, right before each of us went to college offered us the options of going to college or like investing in a franchise and running it,” sister Randi Zuckerberg told CNN Business’ Laurie Segall of her dad’s offer to his son and each of his three daughters.

Of course, Zuckerberg chose Harvard — and then dropped out.

“I think [my parents] were like ‘Okay, you probably should have taken the McDonald’s franchise money if you wanted a business. But, okay, this might be a second good choice,’” Randi told CNN.

When Zuckerberg started college in 2002, no one could have foreseen that his time Harvard would eventually make him a multibillionaire.

In fact, had Zuckerberg chosen Big Macs over books, he could have made a good living by most people’s standards. A 2016 report from CNBC and Franchise Business Review pegged the average profit of food and beverage franchises at $90,388 a year. And it’s not unusual for McDonald’s owners to make six figures, according to a 2015 Bloomberg story.

Of course, Zuckerberg currently has a net worth of $66.6 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, which roughly translates to making over $4.7 billion a year since he dropped out of college in 2004.

It’s unclear how much Zuckerberg’s father would have had to invest for a McDonald’s franchise in the early 2000s, but today, according to the McDonald’s website, the total investment to begin operation of a traditional McDonald’s franchise ranges from $1,013,000 to $2,185,000, and that “profitability depends on many factors.”