Former Kentucky Governor and KFC Owner is 88 years old – The Hollywood Reporter

John Y. Brown Jr., who became governor of Kentucky after building a business and sports empire, has died. He was 88.

Brown’s family said in a statement Tuesday that “every day is an exciting adventure” for the former Democratic governor, who served from 1979 to 1983.

The family said: “He is a true Kentucky native who radiates pride in his hometown and its people. “He has many outstanding achievements, but above all he loves his family with all of his heart, and in return, we love him with all our hearts.”

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said Brown was a “remarkable leader who was committed to serving the people of Kentucky.”

Brown had been the Democratic top fundraiser in the 1970s by the time he was running for public office on his own. He also earned an international reputation as a master salesman. Kentucky Fried Chicken was a chain of small-town restaurants before Brown turned it into a global business and household name. He also owned three professional basketball teams, including the Boston Celtics.

In the spring of 1979, newly married to television celebrity and former Miss America Phyllis George, Brown returned to her home state and contested the Democratic primary for governor. . With his personal fortune, Brown launched a six-week campaign using a lot of television. He edged out a relatively colorless group of candidates to win the nomination, then beat Republican Louie B. Nunn, a former governor, in the general election.

Brown was unlucky to take office when the recession was tightening and tax revenue was falling. He got high marks for keeping the state solvency, but thousands of state employees lost their jobs, and they beat Brown in his two future races.

In 1964, Brown bought Kentucky Fried Chicken from Harland Sanders for $2 million. He became chairman of KFC in January 1965 and sold it to Heublein Corp. in a $275 million stock swap in 1971. Brown received nearly $21 million in Heublein stock for his KFC stock.

In 1969, Brown purchased control of the Kentucky Colonels, Louisville’s franchise in the American Basketball Association. After the ABA ended, Brown paid a reported $1 million to buy half of the profits to the Buffalo Braves of the National Basketball Association. He wanted to move the Braves to Louisville but was blocked in court. Later, Brown and a partner traded the Braves for the Boston Celtics, in the first trade of professional sports teams.

The Braves later moved to San Diego, and Brown later sold his stake in the Celtics.

In 1983, Brown performed the first heart bypass surgery. He was heavily sedated for a week and breathing on a respirator. Two months later, after vowing to quit smoking and lose weight, Brown told reporters that death had turned him into a new person. “For me, it’s like being born again,” Brown said. “I think it will change my life, and it needs to be changed. … I didn’t eat the right things, I didn’t exercise, and I’m a freak by nature.”

One of Brown’s sons, John Y. Brown III, added to the family’s political line when he was elected secretary of state of Kentucky in 1995. He was re-elected unopposed in 1999. .

As governor, Brown one day presented his platform during a press conference in his office on the Capitol in Frankfort: “Let me be free; Let me be myself. I am different.”

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