The founder of KFC, Colonel Harland Sanders, is widely known for creating one of the most beloved fast-food chains. However, only some know of the legal battle he fought against the company he founded. In the 1970s, Sanders sued KFC for millions of dollars, claiming that the company had stolen his image, reputation, and happiness.
Colonel Sanders Backstory
Colonel Sanders was born in Indiana in 1890 and started cooking at a young age to support his family. He worked various jobs throughout his life but was not successful until his sixties. In 1952, he franchised his famous Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe and started building a fast-food empire that would become known worldwide.
As KFC grew in popularity, Sanders became an icon in the industry. His white suit and tie were instantly recognizable. However, as KFC expanded, Sanders became increasingly frustrated with the management and direction.
KFC Gets Sold
In 1964, KFC was sold to investors who planned to take the company public. Sanders was offered a seat on the board of directors, but he refused, believing that the new owners did not understand the values that made KFC successful. He continued to be a public face for advertisements but grew critical of its practices.
In 1973, Sanders sued KFC for $122 million, claiming that the company had used his image and reputation without permission. He accused the company of cutting corners on the quality of its food and failing to maintain the high standards he had set. Sanders also claimed that KFC had breached its contract with him by failing to ask him about major decisions.
The lawsuit was a media sensation, making headlines worldwide. Many people were shocked that he would sue the very organization he had created. However, Sanders was determined to protect his legacy and ensure that KFC remained true to his vision.
The legal battle lasted for two years. During this time, Sanders gave numerous interviews and made plenty of public appearances. In the end, KFC settled with Sanders for an undisclosed sum, and he agreed to drop the lawsuit. However, the damage had already been done, and KFC’s reputation had taken a hit.
Today, the legacy of Colonel Sanders lives on through the KFC brand, but the legal battle he fought serves as a reminder that even the most successful entrepreneurs can clash with their creations. His determination to protect his legacy is a testament to his vision and dedication to his customers. Although he may have been seen as rebellious at the time, his lawsuit against KFC ultimately helped to ensure that the company remained true to his values.