FRANKFORT — Former Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. has been named by Harvard Business School as one of the top American business leaders in the 20th century.
Brown was included on the list with such business heavyweights as Walt Disney, Sam Walton of Wal-Mart fame, Oprah Winfrey and Microsoft's Bill Gates.
Brown, who was governor from 1979 to 1983, parlayed KFC into an international business.
The Harvard Business School Web site noted that Brown and a group of investors bought Kentucky Fried Chicken from its founder, Colonel Harland Sanders, for $2 million in 1964 and grew it from 600 to 3,500 franchises.
"It's nice to be remembered," Brown said Friday in a telephone interview about the Harvard designation. "My son, Lincoln, just told me about it, and I told him maybe he finally will respect his old man."
Brown said he did "pioneer the restaurant industry. The Colonel had the vision, but we took it further. I'll never forget opening the first KFC in Asia."
"It's amazing to me that the business still basically has the same menu, the same looks," he said.
But Brown said "being governor of Kentucky was more personal to me."