A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

You are never too old and Kentucky’s Harlan Sanders tops the Senior List, which just goes to prove it

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

There are lots of stories about young people who become instant millionaires, but there are also those who didn’t reach fame and fortune until after they reached 50, and a Kentuckian tops a list of top 10 late bloomers.

Col. Harland Sanders, the founder of KFC, became a millionaire at age 74 with his world-famous recipe.

The Senior List released a study titled “Striking it Rich After 50,” which also analyzed the percentage of seniors working in every state across America using the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Harlan Sanders

While many seniors are working to simply make ends meet, the study highlights 10 historical figures who got rich after the age of 50, to serve as inspiration that you are never too old to make your fortune.

They are:

1. Harland Sanders: “Colonel” Sanders, the Founder of KFC, became a millionaire at 74

2. Charles Darwin: Became wealthy after he published “The Origin of Species” at 50

3. Taikichiro Mori: Japanese economics professor quit his job at 55 to become a real estate tycoon

4. Ray Kroc: Convinced the McDonald’s brothers to franchise the fast food restaurant at 52

5. Grandma Moses: Had her art featured at the Museum of Modern Art at the age of 78

6. Wally Amos: Sold the “Famous Amos” cookie brand at age 49

7. Pablo Picasso: The famous artist didn’t become a major success until his later years

8. Laura Ingalls Wilder: Published her first book in the famous “Little House” series at 65

9. Henry Ford: Introduced the first mass-production moving assembly line for cars at 50

10. Judge Judy: Her famous TV show first aired when Judy Sheindlin was 54 years old


According to the Senior List, more people 55 and older are still working or actively seeking employment. In 1990 that number stood at 30 percent of Americans, but today it has risen to 40 percent, according to the U. S. Census Bureau.

However, Kentucky bucks that trend, with only 34.4 percent employed or looking. That ranks 49th among the states and District of Columbia. Only Alabama and West Virginia are lower.

The Labor Department reports the unemployment rate nationwide for those 55 and older is the lowest among all age groups at 3.1 percent.

That compares to 13.3 percent for those age 16-19, and an overall jobless rate of 4.1 percent.

The mean annual household income decreases for those of retirement age. The highest amount nationwide is $80,671 for those 45-54. It drops to $68,567 for the 55-64 age group and to $41,125 for those 65 and older, Census Bureau statistics show.

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