The Story of Colonel Sanders, the Man Who Brought the Brink of Suicide and Founded KFC

Elif Özçakmak

Elif Özçakmak

İTÜ - İşletme Mühendisliği | Editör @ceotudent

Have you ever wondered who the man in the logo of Kentucky Fried Chicken, one of the world’s most popular Fast Food brands, is? This man with the goatee and glasses, the founder of KFC: Colonel Harland Sanders. He is a successful entrepreneur who managed to get up and achieve his dreams despite falling down many times.
Let’s take a closer look at his story that will inspire us all…

Colonel Harland David Sanders was born in 1890 in Indiana. Sanders, who lost his father at the age of 5, had to take care of his siblings at the age of 5 after his mother had to work.

The culinary talent that laid the foundations of KFC started with cooking for his brothers.




Sanders, who started working at the age of 10, dropped out of school at 16 and had been laid off from four different jobs by the age of 17. After his mother’s marriage, he ran away from home because he could not get along with his stepfather and changed his date of birth to join the American army.

However, he was discharged from the army after a while.




Colonel Sanders married Josephine King at the age of 18. He worked as a conductor on trains until he was 22 years old, but when he was fired from there, his wife left him with their children.

Colonel and Josephine had three children, but the son did not live long. Colonel was starting to have a very difficult time.


He worked in many different jobs for many years, but was not successful. Sanders thought of committing suicide because of these failures. While thinking about it, he remembered that he had a talent for one thing: cooking!

So he decided to open a shop.




The menus of Sanders, who started to sell fried chicken with his own special sauce, in his first KFC shop, which he opened at a gas station in Corbin, near Tennessee, were loved by the customers in a short time.

Thereupon, he opened a motel across from the gas station to better serve his customers. The governor of Kentucky gave Sanders the nickname “Colonel”, whose fame spread throughout the state in a short time.


This success of Colonel Sanders did not last long. The road, which was served by Sanders, which was frequented by everyone, became unusable due to a newly built highway and Sanders sank.

Sanders’ clients dwindled and he eventually had to sell everything to pay off his debts.
At 66, he was broke, but he still wasn’t going to give up!




With only his pension left, Sanders looked for a dealer to sell his chickens. Sanders, who received a rejection from 1008 restaurants in America with his car, went to the 1009th restaurant he went to. He managed to get the restaurant to accept his offer.

He had finally found the appropriate starting point to introduce his recipe to customers.


Sanders’ fried chicken, which received a commission per chicken sold, was again loved by customers. Orders were constantly increasing, and Sanders franchised hundreds of restaurants across the United States.

The times of abundance in his life had begun, albeit late.




With KFC becoming a legend, Colonel Sanders sold his company to John Brown Jr. for $2 million, on the condition that he remain the official face of the company. He would be paid $250,000 each year for remaining the official face of the company.





I would like to end my article with an appropriate Japanese proverb:

“Fall seven times, stand up eight!”

Because even if you are 60 years old and have fallen many times, you can stand up and achieve success. ☺
Kategoriler: Entrepreneurship, History

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