Raymond Albert "Ray" Kroc (October 5, 1902 – January 14, 1984) was an American businessman who took over the small-scale McDonald's Corporation franchise in 1954 and built it into the most successful fast food operation in the world. Kroc was included in Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century, and amassed a $500 million fortune during his lifetime. He was also the owner of the San Diego Padres baseball team starting in 1974.
Kroc was born to parents of Czech origin in Oak Park, Chicago, Illinois, in 1902. He grew up and spent most of his life in Oak Park, Ill. During the First World War he trained to become an ambulance driver. At this time he befriended Walt Disney who was also in training. The war ended before Kroc saw action. Between the end of the war and the early 1950s he tried his hand at a number of trades including paper-cup salesman, pianist, jazz musician, band member and worked at an Oak Park radio station. At one time, Ray worked for room and board at one of Ray Dambaugh's restaurants in the mid west to learn the restaurant business. Years later, he returned the favor by coming to Ray Dambaugh's funeral in Evans City, Pennsylvania to pay his respects. He eventually became a multi-mixer milkshake machine salesman, traveling across the country.
Convinced that he could sell mixers to every new restaurant that they opened, he partnered with the McDonald brothers who were looking to begin franchising. Kroc eventually became frustrated with the brothers' willingness to accept their chain having only a handful of restaurants. In 1961, he purchased the company from the brothers. The agreement was for the McDonald's to receive $2.7 million for the chain and to continue to receive an overriding royalty of 1.9% (when negotiating the contract the McDonald brothers said that 2% sounded greedy, 1.9% was much more attractive) on the gross sales.