Mental Floss

Mikhail Gorbachev: Pizza Hut Spokesman

Stacy Conradt

Happy belated birthday to Mikhail Gorbachev, who turned 81 yesterday. After seeing his stint as a Pizza Hut spokesman, we have to wonder if he’s celebrating with a couple of pies:

If you’re wondering what the former Soviet leader is doing hawking fast food, well, you’re not alone. The unorthodox 1997 career move raised the eyebrows of many who wondered why Gorbachev had turned to shilling subpar pizza. “The next step will be to advertise Tampax,” one Russian told CNN at the time.

The birthmarked bigwig claimed he appeared in the commercial to raise money for his Gorbachev Foundation, an international pro-democracy think tank. He wouldn’t have done just any commercial for just any company, he explained, and only accepted the Pizza Hut gig because of his firm belief that pizza is a food that brings people together. “It’s not only consumption, it’s also socializing. If I didn’t see that it was beneficial for people, I wouldn’t have agreed to it.”

Wonder what his reasoning was for appearing in an Annie Leibovitz-photographed Louis Vuitton luggage ad in 2007?

The Pizza Hut ad, which co-stars Gorbachev’s then-10-year-old granddaughter, debuted in the U.S. during the Rose Bowl on January 1, 1998.