1972 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"America is the land of opportunity for someone with an idea."
Ray Kroc was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1902. During World War I, he trained to become an ambulance driver with Walt Disney, but the war ended before he saw any action. He worked as a paper cup salesman and a piano player before becoming a salesman for the "Multimixer," a new machine for milkshakes, which he sold nationally. Traveling around the country, Kroc met the McDonald brothers, who had a small hamburger restaurant in San Bernardino, California. Kroc bought the rights to franchise McDonalds restaurants nationwide. His first restaurant opened in 1955 in Des Plaines, Illinois. In 1961, he bought out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million. Kroc was also the owner of the San Diego Padres baseball team. He died in 1984 and is remembered as a pioneer in the fast-food industry. He was named as one of Time magazine's "Builders and Titans" of the 20th century. To date, there are 31,000 McDonalds restaurants worldwide.* Deceased