On Wednesday morning, James Murren, chief executive of MGM Resorts International, dropped an astounding comment into an otherwise routine earnings call. “People are starting to spend money remarkably here,” he said in response to a query about how the chain’s casinos were performing. The other night at a Prime Steakhouse, he explained, a group had spent $300,000 on a single dinner. “That’s a pretty good check,” Murren told the analyst. “You would have liked the wine.”
As it turned out, the man behind that feast was Shane Smith, CEO of Vice Media. The meal reportedly took place at the Bellagio casino shortly after Smith had wrapped up a weeklong gambling jaunt with more than $1 million in winnings. An MGM spokesman told Bloomberg that the dinner was attended by 12 people, while an anonymous member of the party said the count was closer to 25. The New York Times reported that some bottles of wine at the table cost more than $20,000.
Such extravagance is understandably hard for us normal folks to grasp, which is why we decided to convert it into more consumer-friendly terms: Chipotle. Earlier this week, the Upshot produced a comprehensive graphical analysis of exactly how many calories most people eat when they go to Chipotle. Which left us wondering: How many calories could Shane Smith get there?
This question quickly led us down a dark and frightening computational rabbit hole. There is a tremendous number of combinations of Chipotle orders that could be made to add up to $300,000, many of which would have different calorie counts. I spent about 20 minutes this afternoon attempting to write and solve a multi-multivariable equation to calculate just how many combinations there are, but then found myself in the depths of factorial despair, and gave up. So if you can solve this out, more power to you. For now, let’s try to make things a little simpler.
The somewhat arbitrary parameters: Chipotle prices vary by location. These calculations are based on prices at Chipotle’s 1 Metrotech Center in Brooklyn, which just so happens to be the nearest to the Vice headquarters. Also, let’s stick with burritos, because tacos get a bit more complicated. At that Chipotle, then, a steak or barbacoa burrito costs $8.96, a carnitas burrito costs $8.73, and a chicken, sofritas, or veggie burrito costs $8.27. Guacamole is an extra $2.30. New York state’s sales tax adds another 8.875 percent. A side order of chips and guac goes for $3.68. And a large soda costs $2.07 (because if you have $300,000 to spend, why bother with any other size of soda?). Using these parameters, we can answer some specific queries for the everyday fast-casual $300,000 diner.
How can I maximize my caloric burrito intake with $300,000? An important first question. According to Chipotle’s nutrition calculator, the most caloric burrito possible contains carnitas, brown rice, black beans, and all of the toppings (fajita vegetables, fresh tomato salsa, roasted chili-corn salsa, green salsa, red salsa, sour cream, cheese, guacamole, and lettuce). This burrito will cost you $11.03 before tax and contains 1,455 calories. However, if your goal is to get the most caloric bang for your buck, you’re actually better off forgoing the guac. With it, you end up getting 131.9 calories per dollar. Without, that ratio budges up to 140.3 calories per dollar. Accounting for tax, your best caloric option is then to order 31,563 carnitas burritos without guac. You’ll have 39 cents left over.
Screw caloric efficiency! I want guacamole. OK then. You can still be pretty calorically efficient if you do the carnitas-with-guac burrito option. In that case, you’ll want to order 24,981 of those. For context, that would be more than enough to feed the entire audience in Madison Square Garden, which holds 18,200 spectators, and then some. You’ll also have $5.36 left over, so you can either throw in one order of chips and guac, or two large sodas.
Wait, everyone in my party wants a soda. Hm, all right. If you’re still doing carnitas burritos with guac, then you can get 21,034 orders of that. You’ll be 5 cents over budget, but if you’re already spending $300,000 on Chipotle you can probably afford to cough up another nickel.
UGH, now that I gave everyone a carnitas burrito and guac and soda, they each want an order of chips and guac as well. The price of being rich! You’ll have to disinvite some of them, because adding in chips and guac you can only get enough food for 16,421 people. You’ll have $1.06 left over.
You know what, I don’t feel like sharing. I’m just going to get Chipotle for myself. And I want lots of barbacoa burritos. Whatever you say. So barbacoa burritos with guac, large sodas, and side orders of chips and guac? You can order that 16,199 times, which if you go to Chipotle once a day is enough to last for about the next 44 and a half years of your life. Hopefully you’re starting young. Though with a diet like that, you might have bigger problems than old age.
You’ll have 39 cents left over.