Kentucky Fried Chicken’s new spokesperson — Reba McEntire — was overjoyed when she got offered the role of Colonel Sanders in the restaurant’s latest ad campaign.
McEntire, a 62-year-old country music star, said when she was approached about playing the iconic colonel in December, she immediately became excited.
“I said ‘Holy smokes!'” the Oklahoma native recalled in an interview with The Associated Press. “KFC has been a part of my life forever.”
The new ads starring McEntire will debut on TV this upcoming week, but the fast food restaurant chain has already released an online ad introducing McEntire as its new spokesperson.
“I’m Colonel Sanders, the same as always,” McEntire sings in the new ad, which is styled after a country music video. “I’m definitely not a woman.”
As KFC’s new spokesperson, McEntire wears a a white suit and black tie, as well as a “glittery shine” that she said gives the costume “a little bit of the country music flair,” according to the AP. McEntire also dons a white wig and a beard.
“I thought the transformation was really funny,” she said, while adding, “I got a big kick out of it.”
The country music star is the first musician to play the part, though she is just the latest in a string of famous celebrities to recreate the colonel’s magic.
Col. Harland Sanders, who founded KFC, died more than three decades ago. In 2015, the chain decided to resurrect his character after an absence that lasted more than 20 years. Since then, entertainers like Rob Lowe and Ray Liotta have taken turns playing the role.
For the next several months (through the end of April), McEntire will promote KFC’s Smoky Mountain BBQ — which combines a barbecue-style taste with fried chicken.
The chain said it chose McEntire in part due to her “southern roots.”
“With Reba’s southern roots and entrepreneurial spirit, she truly embodies the values of the Colonel and the crowd-pleasing flavor of our Smoky Mountain BBQ,” KFC U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky said in a news release, according to Fox News.
“The pairing of a universally loved music legend like Reba with a universally appealing flavor like Smoky Mountain BBQ makes what I like to call ‘Smoky Mountain Magic.’”
McEntire, meanwhile, emphasized that FKC has been part of her life since she was a little girl.
“I grew up with Kentucky Fried Chicken. It’s part of my story, and I’m so excited to now be part of theirs,” she said. “I’ve held a lot of roles in my life — sort of like the Colonel himself — but this is certainly the most unique one yet.”
After KFC announced that McEntire would be its new spokesperson, many people surmised that that their reasoning was political in nature.
But according to the chain, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We’ve always maintained that anyone, male or female, who embodies the spirit of the colonel is qualified to play the iconic role,” KFC said in a statement to Newsweek.
“We were looking for a country music legend who shares the values of the Colonel, a showperson through and through, and a lover of fried chicken with plenty of Southern charm to boot. Reba was the perfect choice.”
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