colonel

U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-3rd District, right, and U.S. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, stand with a commission naming Duncan as an honorary Kentucky Colonel. He posted the image to Twitter last week.

What do Golden Girls actress Betty White, rock guitarist Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne fame and U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan all have in common?

They can claim membership in the Kentucky Colonel club, the highest honorary title bestowed by the state.

Duncan, R-3rd District, announced the news Wednesday on Twitter, posting a photograph of himself with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, holding a document announcing his inclusion into the organization.

The title dates back to 1813, when Gov. Isaac Shelby commissioned an officer who had fought alongside him in the War of 1812 as an aide-de-camp to his staff, with the official rank and grade of colonel. Since then, more than 85,000 have received the honor.

"I am proud to be the newest 'Kentucky Colonel' commissioned by Governor Matt Bevin and presented by my good friend Senator Rand Paul," Duncan said in a released statement. "South Carolina and Kentucky have always shared a tremendous relationship. I’m humbled to be recognized by the Commonwealth of Kentucky for my work on behalf of the Third Congressional District and the entire nation in Congress."

Other noteworthy colonels include boxer Muhammad Ali, former president George H.W. Bush, Walt Disney, former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and golfer Tiger Woods.

The title is also held by Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, who was so honored to receive the moniker it became his lifelong nickname.

Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.