JOHN Y. BROWN JR. was born in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1933. He received a bachelor's degree and a law degree from the University of Kentucky and served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1959 to 1965. He first made his mark in the restaurant franchise industry by recognizing the appeal of fast fried chicken during the 1960s and made "the colonel" famous. As co-owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Inc., he established an international reputation by building KFC into the world's largest fast-food service company, even bigger than McDonald's, before selling in 1971. He has also been an owner of two professional basketball teams: the Boston Celtics, and the Kentucky Colonels. As Governor of Kentucky from 1979 to 1983, he reduced the budget by 22 percent and brought record commerce to the state. Governor Brown co-chaired the Appalachian Regional Commission and chaired the Southern States' Energy Board. His work brought him the Democrat of the Year award and was made lifetime Honorary Treasurer of the Democratic Party. In 1984, Brown made a brief, abortive bid for a U.S. Senate seat. In 1987, he ran for governor again but lost to Wallace Wilkinson.

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