Make It

Despite His Success, Jay Leno Still Refuses to Splurge on Expensive Food

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Jay Leno may be happy to spend $800,000 on a car, but when it comes to dining out, he isn't willing to break the bank.

The former "The Tonight Show" host can't bring himself to spend money on food he feels is overpriced, even if he can afford it, he tells CNBC Make It.

"To this day, I still get all my meals from guys in paper hats," Leno says, referring to the classic uniforms of old-school fast food restaurants. "I'm not a fancy restaurant guy. My favorite steakhouse steak went up to $70. I don't go there anymore. That's ridiculous. There's no reason a steak should be $70."

When he was younger and lived in New York City, Leno says he used to frequent the famed Carnegie Deli. At the time, burgers cost $1.10 and the roast beef sandwich was $4.95. He got the burger every time.

"I always thought, 'someday I'm going to make enough money that I can go in there and have the roast beef sandwich,'" he says. But when he returned 30 years later after his TV stardom had made him a millionaire, he found that the burger cost around $9, while the roast beef sandwich was around $18. Leno says he walked out.

"I still couldn't bring myself to do that," he says.

The 71-year-old also says there's one other splurge he refuses to spend his money on: room service.

"I can't sit in my room and have people bring food to me on a tray," he says. "If you're too lazy to walk downstairs and get something to eat and have people pushing food into your room instead, now you're just a rich, bloated idiot."

Indeed, Leno has no intention of using his riches to let himself relax. He previously told CNBC Make It that it's important to him to maintain a busy schedule and keep himself "hungry" for success.

Leno says that he hasn't been in the pool of his Beverly Hills home in 30 years because he can't shake the feeling that he could be working instead.

"Every time I get near it, I'll get that Boston voice in my head going, 'Really? Is that what you are now? A rich guy that sits in a pool?'" he says. "There must be something I could be doing besides this."

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