The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 on June 24, 1978 (when the album had already been charting since March) before picking up more airplay that August. It became the Village People's first charting hit in the United States, peaking on the Hot 100 at number 25 on the week of September 2.
Village People cowboy Randy Jones recalled, "The Monday after Thanksgiving (1977), we signed contracts and the Tuesday after, we were in studio recording "Macho Man," with Victor Willis' handwritten lyrics that were written in the morning with egg stains and coffee rings on it. Everything was happening that quickly."
The song was featured in an Old El Paso commercial in 1995, with lyrics changed to "Nacho, nacho, man".
In one installment of the weekly comic strip FoxTrot, Jason Fox and his friend Marcus sing the chorus over and over to annoy Jason's sister Paige, who grumbles, "I wish I hadn't told you I hate that song." Jason responds, "You're lucky we don't know more verses," while Marcus asks, "Is it 'macho' or 'nacho'?"
In the Scrubs episode "My New Suit" J.D. fantasizes about playing Macho Man to babies to test their "gayness"
In 2016, Amanda Lear recorded a cover version of this song for her album, Let Me Entertain You.
In 2017, the song was used on the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race as a lip-sync song, in which contestants Peppermint and Alexis Michelle had to lip-sync to stay in the competition, with Peppermint winning the battle and Michelle being eliminated.