#teensexting | #sexting | Ex-girlfriend of fired McDonald’s boss says he changed when promoted to CEO

Fired McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook’s former girlfriend has spoken out for the first time about their whirlwind romance and said the accusations against him ‘are not the gentleman I knew’, in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com. 

Easterbrook, 53, was fired by McDonald’s last November for having an inappropriate sexting relationship with an unnamed female subordinate, walking away with a compensation package reportedly worth more than $40 million. 

Then, McDonald’s filed a lawsuit this month to get the money back, accusing Easterbrook of fraud, lying and concealing evidence of several other relationships, including deleting from his company phone and computer dozens of nude or sexually explicit photographs of employees he had sexual relationships with.

Denise Paleothodoros, 47, who was with Easterbrook from 2014 into early 2018, described their relationship as an intense romance, where she was whisked away on vacation on McDonald’s private plane and had plans of moving into his $2.5 million condo in Chicago.

The mother-of-two said while working together – she as a consultant for a public relations firm – they bonded over their divorces, rapidly confessed their love to each other and got the approval of their respective companies to continue their relationship.

But after he was promoted to CEO in 2015, Easterbrook’s ‘priorities changed and I was not high on his list of priorities,’ Denise said. ‘He widened his social circle and I wasn’t a part of it, I was hurt by being excluded.’ 

In light of the recent allegations made against him, Denise said she was ‘shocked and disappointed’, adding: ‘His actions described are not the actions of the person I knew. He was very careful about his image.’ 

Fired McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook’s former girlfriend Denise Paleothodoros has spoken out for the first time, saying the accusations against him ‘are not the gentleman she knew’ but admitted their relationship changed after he landed the top job, she said in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com

Easterbrook, 53, was fired by McDonald's last November for having an inappropriate sexting relationship with an unnamed female subordinate, walking away with a compensation package worth more than $40 million

Easterbrook, 53, was fired by McDonald’s last November for having an inappropriate sexting relationship with an unnamed female subordinate, walking away with a compensation package worth more than $40 million 

Paleothodoros, 47, who dated Easterbrook from 2014 into early 2018, described their relationship as an intense romance, where she was whisked away on vacation on McDonald's private plane and had plans of moving into his $2.5 million condo in Chicago

Paleothodoros, 47, who dated Easterbrook from 2014 into early 2018, described their relationship as an intense romance, where she was whisked away on vacation on McDonald’s private plane and had plans of moving into his $2.5 million condo in Chicago 

The former PR executive met Easterbrook in 2014 while working for Golin, one of the many companies McDonald’s hired to handle its PR. At the time, Easterbrook was McDonald’s Global Chief Brand Officer.

‘We initially met during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia,’ Denise said, and although nothing romantic happened on the trip, after months of casually flirting and a few dinners ‘things started to heat up.’

They were both ending their marriages and Denise explained: ‘I guess we connected on that level, we were going through some of the same things, and we had a strong emotional connection.’

Easterbrook was splitting from his British wife Susie, who he shares three daughters with. Denise was divorcing her husband, who she has two children with.

 Our relationship was above board and McDonald’s knew about it and my company knew about it. People within both of our companies knew about our relationship.

When they both realized things were turning into a more intimate relationship by the end of summer 2014, Denise said they both notified the proper people within their respective companies.

‘Steve disclosed our relationship to the board and I told my bosses at Golin, I was taken off the McDonald’s account,’ Denise said.

‘We both alerted the necessary people and some adjustments were made, neither company had a problem with our relationship.’

She added: ‘We didn’t flaunt our relationship but we didn’t really hide it either. Our relationship was above board and McDonald’s knew about it and my company knew about it. People within both of our companies knew about our relationship.’

Once their relationship started to heat up, it moved fast and within months they both said ‘I love you’.

Easterbrook whisked Denise on luxury vacations, taking her on McDonald’s private jet three times. Denise said he reimbursed McDonald’s for the costs of the plane.

Among the ritzy destinations were Cabo San Lucas, New Orleans, Lake Tahoe, Hilton Head South Carolina, Scottsdale and New York.

They even had plans to move in together and in 2017 Easterbrook plunked down $2.5 million for a sprawling 19th floor 3500 sq. feet, 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom luxury condo in downtown Chicago.   

The former PR executive met Easterbrook in 2014 while working for Golin, one of the many companies McDonald's hired to handle its PR. At the time, Easterbrook was McDonald's Global Chief Brand Officer

The former PR executive met Easterbrook in 2014 while working for Golin, one of the many companies McDonald’s hired to handle its PR. At the time, Easterbrook was McDonald’s Global Chief Brand Officer

When they both realized things were turning into a more intimate relationship by the end of summer 2014, Denise said they both notified the proper people within their respective companies

When they both realized things were turning into a more intimate relationship by the end of summer 2014, Denise said they both notified the proper people within their respective companies

They even had plans to move in together and in 2017 Easterbrook plunked down $2.5 million for a sprawling 19th floor 3500 sq. feet, 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom luxury condo in downtown Chicago (pictured)

They even had plans to move in together and in 2017 Easterbrook plunked down $2.5 million for a sprawling 19th floor 3500 sq. feet, 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom luxury condo in downtown Chicago (pictured)

'I had my own key and parking spot,’ she said. The plan was for her to eventually live there permanently with him when her kids were old enough and out of the house

‘I had my own key and parking spot,’ she said. The plan was for her to eventually live there permanently with him when her kids were old enough and out of the house

She said: ‘Steve’s a great guy. Kind-hearted, giving, almost the perfect guy. The Steve I knew is a normal, a guy’s guy. He’s into sports and likes to drink beer. ‘

Easterbrook truly loved company’s food, with Denise adding when they went on road trips they often stopped for fast food and Easterbrook would order his favorite quarter pounder with cheese and fries. And not once was he ever recognized as the company’s CEO. 

Denise said while they were madly in love with each other, they never discussed marriage.

She added: ‘We spoke about building a future together. Sharing our life together, he referred to me as his life partner.

There wasn’t any pressure to get married for either of us. We were worried about figuring out our schedules.’

In March 2015, Easterbrook was named CEO of McDonald’s and ‘he was excited when he got the job, and we went to dinner to celebrate,’ Denise recalled. 

But Denise said after the big promotion, their relationship gradually changed, with him traveling nonstop and in constant demand.

She explained: ‘He had found success in his new position, he started to build a network in Chicago that was bigger than us and he didn’t include me in it.

‘He widened his social circle and I wasn’t a part of it, I was hurt by being excluded. His priorities changed and I was not high on his list of priorities.’

During their three-and-a-half-year relationship, Denise said they broke up twice because they didn’t have the time to devote fully to their relationship. One split was only a month long, the second was for a few months.

In early 2018 the couple became more and more distant, and in April of that year they mutually broke off their relationship.

Once their relationship started to heat up it moved fast, within months they both said 'I love you'. She said: 'Steve's a great guy. Kind hearted, giving, almost the perfect guy. The Steve I knew is a normal, a guy's guy. He's into sports and likes to drink beer'

Once their relationship started to heat up it moved fast, within months they both said ‘I love you’. She said: ‘Steve’s a great guy. Kind hearted, giving, almost the perfect guy. The Steve I knew is a normal, a guy’s guy. He’s into sports and likes to drink beer’ 

Denise said while they were madly in love with each other, they never discussed marriage. She said: 'We spoke about building a future together. Sharing our life together, he referred to me as his life partner. There wasn't any pressure to get married for either of us. We were worried about figuring out our schedules.' Pictured: Easterbrook and Denise at a Cubs game with friends

Denise said while they were madly in love with each other, they never discussed marriage. She said: ‘We spoke about building a future together. Sharing our life together, he referred to me as his life partner. There wasn’t any pressure to get married for either of us. We were worried about figuring out our schedules.’ Pictured: Easterbrook and Denise at a Cubs game with friends

‘Steve came over to my house and picked up his key. Our breakup was mutual, we went our separate ways. But we wanted to stay friends.’

For the remainder of 2018, they occasionally would meet up for coffee or a casual dinner, even spending Thanksgiving together later that year.

Over the course of the next several months they stayed in periodic contact with each other via email, then in October 2019 they met for coffee.

But Denise said after Easterbrook's big promotion, their relationship gradually changed, with him traveling nonstop and in constant demand

But Denise said after Easterbrook’s big promotion, their relationship gradually changed, with him traveling nonstop and in constant demand

‘I asked to meet with him, I had heard he wasn’t doing so well emotionally. But when I asked him, he said everything was fine.’

Weeks later Easterbrook broke the news to her that he was getting fired by McDonald’s.

Denise said: ‘He explained he was being let go because he had a consensual relationship in the workplace.

Denise said: ‘He wanted to warn me about it before the news broke. He felt ashamed and had a lot of regret about it, but never mentioned any of the other women per the lawsuit.’

After Easterbrook was fired in November 2019, they met up discreetly for weekly dinners in the Chicago area to ‘check in with each other for emotional support during this mess.’

Denise said she was being hounded by people who thought she was the one who got him fired, explaining he ‘apologized to me on several occasions for that.’

But in February, the friends decided it was best for them to go their separate ways and haven’t communicated since.

McDonald’s lawsuit claims Easterbrook had sexual relationships with three employees in 2018 and 2019, and even gave one several hundred thousand dollars worth of company stocks after a sexual encounter.

The lawsuit also alleges that dozens of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit photographs and videos were found on his company email account, and that Easterbrook attempted to delete them as part of a coverup to maintain his multi-million dollar severance package.

McDonald’s claims Easterbrook wouldn’t have gotten his separation agreement had he disclosed the other previous inappropriate relationships.

Easterbrook is credited with revitalizing the company after profits fell, doing so by simplifying menus, improving the quality of ingredients and introducing healthier products such as more salads, fresh fruit and juices

Easterbrook is credited with revitalizing the company after profits fell, doing so by simplifying menus, improving the quality of ingredients and introducing healthier products such as more salads, fresh fruit and juices 

Denise said she is not one of the three unnamed women in the current lawsuit and said she didn’t have anything to do with his dismissal from his CEO position last year.

She said: ‘I want it known that we were in a relationship and I’m not a part of the current lawsuits or his reason for his dismissal. Steve has never asked me to send him any distasteful photos or did I ever think to send him any.

‘The behavior described in the lawsuit is so out of character for the gentleman that I knew.’

She said she is speaking out because she has ‘been lumped together with these other women that were involved in Steve’s problems.’ 

Denise added: ‘I never received any compensation from Steve, McDonald’s or my former employer after our relationship ended.’ 

She said: ‘I’m sad for him that he chose to go down this dark alley. He was a great CEO and this story is not the legacy for which he planned.’

Easterbrook is credited with revitalizing the company after profits fell, doing so by simplifying menus, improving the quality of ingredients and introducing healthier products such as more salads, fresh fruit and juices.

His rise to the top of the world’s most famous fast food brand was an extraordinary one.

The Brit joined the company in 1993 as a branch manager, working his way up to become its UK chief in 2006 and then becoming president of its northern European business, putting him in charge of 1,800 restaurants.

In 2011 he became boss of UK’s Pizza Express and then Wagamama but then went back to McDonald’s as Chief Brand Office in 2013.

He then became overall boss in 2015, running the business from its $250 million headquarters in Chicago. 


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