Sean Cate
Sean Cate
April 30, 2024 ·  3 min read

Fox News Host Thinks McDonald’s Employees Can Get ‘Six Figure Salaries’ With New $20 Minimum Wage

Wages and the cost of living has always been a hot topic in the United States, and it’s only intensifying. Recently, while Fox News Host Jesse Watters was promoting his new book on the PBD podcast, he made some very simple mistakes that got him thoroughly dragged online. He made some remarks about fast-food workers’ wages (specifically about a $20 minimum wage) and how he sees their ability to grow…and it casually ignited a firestorm of criticism.1

Swing and A Miss

Jess watters on radio
Credit: Bored Panda

Watters asked a question that left many scratching their heads, “If you’re making $20 an hour to work at a fast-food restaurant, alright. Is that six figures? Are you making six figures?“. His statement, coupled with the (misplaced) understanding that both spouses working at McDonald’s could potentially earn a six-figure income on minimum wage, earned some significant backlash. A $20 minimum wage does not come close to earning six figures, even if three people worked in the same household. Where Watters’ failed was with basic, elementary school-level math, showing either a lack of ability or a refusal to connect with the realities fast-food workers face.

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The Math Ain’t Mathing

Jesse Watters on radio
Credit: Bored Panda

The clip of Watters’ on the podcast quickly went viral and garnered over 770k views in a few short days. Now, it’s worth noting that Watters’ claim of the $20 minimum wage being the average salary for fast-food workers is inaccurate. In reality, wages for fast-food workers vary greatly, ranging from $12 to $20 per hour depending on factors such as location and experience.

Rising Tides in California

Credit: Unsplash

But even with California’s recently implemented minimum wage law, which sets fast-food workers’ salaries at $20 minimum wage, Watter’s falls well short (the math is summed up on a later slide).2 The goal of the law is to improve the livelihoods of fast-food employees, which has sparked debates and concerns among franchise owners about increased operational costs and the potential for job losses. Alex Johnson, a franchise owner, expressed worries about the financial strain the wage increase would place on businesses, potentially leading to increased prices and layoffs.3

What Do the Workers Think

Credit: Unsplash

On the other hand, fast-food workers have welcomed the wage hike, recognizing its potential to finally lessen the financial burdens so many face and improve their quality of life. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) hailed the increase as a step towards fair compensation for workers. With over 500,000 fast-food workers in the state, the wage increase sets a precedent for fair compensation practices, as a $20 minimum wage for places that serve food without tips is a more reasonable living wage.

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Panera restaurant exterior and trademark logo.
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Controversy continues to surround the wage law, particularly regarding certain business exemptions. Panera Bread was exempted from the law, and allegations state it was due to its classification as a bakery. Governor Gavin Newsom’s office denied these claims and said Panera was not made exempt.

Final Thoughts

Instagram post
Credit: Bored Panda

Jesse Watters’ blunder has paved the way for important conversations to be had about fair compensation and the realities faced by low-wage workers. California’s decision to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers shows an ongoing effort to address income inequality and hopefully improve quality of life. Challenges remain in balancing the needs of both workers and business owners, but this is a step in the right direction. Oh, and a $20 minimum wage take-home salary multiplied by three people is still only 87,300, Jesse.

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  1. Fox News Host’s “Six Figures” Wage Calculation Fail Goes Viral, Gets Roasted On X.” Bored Panda. Kornelija Viečaitė and Justinas Keturka. April 17, 2024.
  2. Half a million California workers will get $20 minimum wage, starting today.” NPR. Alina Selyukh and Vanessa Romo. April 1, 2024
  3. California’s New $20 Fast-Food Worker Minimum Wage, Explained.” Eater. Rebecca Roland. April 1, 2024.