John Y. Brown Jr.: The Man Behind KFC’s Success and Wealth

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John Y. Brown
Office of the Governor of Kentucky

John Y. Brown Jr. is a successful businessman and politician who became the CEO of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in 1971. He was born in 1933 in Kentucky and went on to attend law school at the University of Kentucky. He worked as an attorney before entering politics, serving as the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky from 1971 to 1975 and the Governor from 1979 to 1983.

Brown’s time as CEO of KFC was marked by significant growth and success for the company. He oversaw the expansion of KFC’s franchise network and the introduction of new menu items like the Chicken Littles sandwich. In 1978, Brown sold KFC to PepsiCo for $850 million, making him a wealthy man.

After the sale of KFC, Brown went on to invest in other businesses, including the Boston Celtics basketball team and the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority. He also became involved in the restaurant industry once again, opening a chain of fast-food chicken restaurants called Chicken Unlimited. However, this venture was not successful and ultimately led to Brown filing for bankruptcy in 1993.

Despite this setback, Brown’s net worth is estimated to be around $20 million today. He has also been involved in various philanthropic activities, including founding the Kentucky Educational Television Foundation and supporting the John Y. Brown Jr. Cancer Center at the University of Louisville.

In addition to his business and political accomplishments, Brown is known for his colorful personality and sense of humor. Here are five quotes from John Y. Brown Jr.:

  1. “If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.”
  2. “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.”
  3. “You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.”
  4. “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
  5. “I’m not really interested in making money. I’m interested in making history.”

Here is a timeline of John Y. Brown Jr.’s life:

  • 1933: John Y. Brown Jr. is born in Lexington, Kentucky.
  • 1955: Brown graduates from the University of Kentucky with a degree in law.
  • 1960: Brown opens a chain of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in the Lexington area.
  • 1971: Brown becomes CEO of Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation.
  • 1975: Brown is elected Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky.
  • 1979: Brown is elected Governor of Kentucky.
  • 1980: Brown resigns as Governor and returns to his business ventures.
  • 1982: Brown acquires a controlling interest in the NBA’s Boston Celtics.
  • 1983: Brown sells Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation to PepsiCo for $850 million.
  • 1991: Brown becomes chairman of the board of directors for the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority.
  • 2011: Brown publishes his memoir, “John Y. Brown: The Man Who Would Be Governor.”

Note: The timeline is not exhaustive and may not include all notable events in John Y. Brown Jr.’s life.

Five interesting facts about John Y. Brown Jr.:

  1. Brown made his fortune by investing in KFC, which he later sold to PepsiCo for $850 million in 1986.
  2. In addition to his business ventures, Brown was also involved in politics. He served as the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky from 1971 to 1975 and the Governor from 1979 to 1983.
  3. Brown is known for his investment in the Boston Celtics basketball team, which he bought for $10 million in 1979. He sold the team for $30 million in 1992.
  4. Brown is also an avid horse racing enthusiast and served as the chairman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority from 2004 to 2008.
  5. Brown is married to former Miss America Phyllis George, who passed away in 2020.

Five quotes from John Y. Brown Jr.:

  1. “Success in life is not how much money you make, but how much of a difference you make in people’s lives.”
  2. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
  3. “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”
  4. “It’s not about being the best, it’s about being better than you were yesterday.”
  5. “I’ve always been a big believer in following your passion and doing what you love.”

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