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Elvis Presley Pranked His Friends With a 50-Cent Christmas Gift 

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Elvis Presley once pranked the members of the Memphis Mafia by giving them 50-cent gift certificates to McDonald’s, Priscilla Presley said.

Elvis Presley loved Christmas. He also loved a good joke. So, it’s not surprising that the King of Rock and Roll was known to combine the two when presenting holiday gifts to his friends and loved ones. 

Elvis Presley was known for his generosity 

black and white photo of young Elvis Presley playing a guitar

Elvis stayed true to his nickname and lived like a king at his Memphis home, Graceland. He was known for his lavish lifestyle as well as his generosity. He gave his dad $72,500 a year as an allowance and once gave away 32 Cadillacs in a single day, according to the South China Morning Post. His entourage – known as the Memphis Mafia – were perhaps the greatest beneficiaries of Elvis’s free-spending ways. In 1965, he bought nine Triumph motorcycles on a whim and gave them to members of his inner circle as a gift, noted Cycle News. It was just one example of the perks members of the Memphis Mafia received, which also included gifts of cash and jewelry.

“We had everything,” Elvis associate Joe Esposito said in the BBC documentary, The Elvis Mob (via Radar Online). “He liked to share his wealth and his good times with all his friends – a diamond ring or a brand-new car – that thrilled him.”

Elvis used to give people McDonald’s gift certificates as a joke 

View of a McDonald's in 1970

When the holidays rolled around, Elvis’s desire to give to others kicked into high gear. In 1957, he gave each member of the Memphis Mafia a thousand-dollar bill at Christmas. Over time, some came to expect generous holiday gifts, which led The King to pull a memorable prank. 

“He overheard some of the guys from the entourage talking about their Christmas bonuses and he actually went to the McDonald’s down the street and got them all gift certificates,” Elvis’s then-wife Priscilla Presley recalled to Express in 2020.

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Elvis’s last girlfriend, Ginger Alden, confirmed the story about the “Hound Dog” singer. In 2014, she shared a photo of one of the gift certificates on Facebook. “Elvis loved giving these out!” she wrote. 

Each gift certificate from Elvis was for 50 cents, barely enough to get a burger and fries at the famed fast food restaurant, even 50 years ago. Later, Elvis gave everyone their usual bonuses, which presumably had a few more zeros attached – and didn’t have to be spent at McDonald’s.

While some of the recipients might have traded in the slips of paper for a Quarter Pounder or Big Mac, others apparently kept them as souvenirs. In 1994, one of the prank gifts even came up for auction. Organizers expected the 50-cent gift certificate that Elvis gave to his cousin Billy Smith to go for $500 to $700, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

Sources: South China Morning Post, Cycle News, Los Angeles Times 

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Source: Cheat Sheet

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