Saturday, March 3, 2018

How Arnold Palmer Still Earns $40 Million Annually After His Death
 Kurt Badenhausen , FORBES STAFF

 It has been 13 months since Arnold Palmer died from complications of heart problems at the age of 87. He had a massive impact on the world of golf befitting his nickname of “The King.” He won 62 PGA Tour events, including four victories at the Masters, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. 2005 Getty Images But for all of his impact on the game of golf, Palmer’s legacy off the course might have been even greater. He pioneered modern sports marketing with IMG’s Mark McCormack, helped found the Golf Channel, designed more than 300 golf courses around the world and lent his name to apparel, beverages and more. Palmer earned $3.6 million in prize money during 52 years on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, but his business prowess pushed his career earnings to $875 million, including endorsements, appearances, licensing and course design fees (it was $1.4 billion adjusted for inflation). Only Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods earned more in 2017 dollars. Palmer remains a hot commodity after his death with estimated earnings of $40 million over the past 12 months for his estate. Only Michael Jackson earned more among deceased celebrities. Palmer would have ranked thirteenth in FORBES' look at the world's highest-paid athletes (active athletes only). There are still more than 400 stores selling Arnold Palmer-branded apparel in Asia with plans to move into new markets like Thailand and Vietnam. His estate has agreements with 39 licensees. “The licensing business is one by its nature that can perpetuate far beyond the person’s demise if set up correctly,” says Alastair Johnston, Palmer’s longtime agent at IMG.
The Arnold Palmer line of beverages was launched in 2001 based on Palmer’s preferred blend of ice tea and lemonade. AriZona Beverages now produced 500 million cans of the line last year and with the drinks focused on the 13-to-35-year-old consumer, 60% to 70% of drinkers associate the Palmer name with the drink instead of the golfer’s accomplishments on the course. Johnson inked a new contract with AriZona after Palmer’s passing and expansions to the product line are in the works. MillerCoors is launching an Arnold Palmer Spiked Half & Half with plans for a national rollout in 2018. Johnson wants to capitalize on the Palmer brand in the food category and follow the path of PepsiCo with pairing salty snacks with the beverages. Companies continue to use Palmer in their marketing. MasterCard and Textron both renewed agreements with Palmer’s estate over the past year. MasterCard rolled out ads this year with images of a young Arnold Palmer and the slogan “Arnie Would.” The relationship between Rolex and Palmer is one of the oldest in sports and celebrates 50 years in 2017 Johnston says the challenge of not having Palmer available has a minimal impact on the business and there are advantages in one sense. “You can be selective of the images you want to use from his lifetime,” says Johnston. “You have more authenticity to use different images during his career to support the commercial program and not being deceitful of his current profile.” The riches generated by Palmer’s estate are increasingly flowing to the charitable causes Palmer supported during his lifetime. Arnie’s Army is focused largely on the health and wellness of children through philanthropic causes like the Arnold Palmer Medical Center in Orlando. The Arnold Palmer Invitational is an annual PGA Tour event where charitable proceeds are directed to the Palmer Medical Center.