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Arnold Palmer was a business ace, too

By Sarah Berger · Bankrate.com
Monday, September 26, 2016
Posted: 5 pm ET
Arnold Palmer was a business ace, too

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Many know him as a golf legend. Others know him for the sweet and refreshing summer beverage. But Arnold Palmer was a business mogul also.

Palmer, who died Sept. 25 at age 87, leaves behind a legacy of smart investments and savvy business moves. He cashed in on his career and talent, and was able to stretch his fortune well beyond his golfing years.

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Nearly $1B in career earnings

Palmer had the third highest earnings of a retired athlete in 2015, according to Forbes, with $42 million. He consistently snagged top spots on Forbes’ lists for top paid athletes, and raked in an estimated $875 million in career business earnings.

“When he attaches his name to something, people know it’s going to work,” said Golf Channel President Mike McCarley on GolfChannel.com. “And people want to be associated with him so they want to be associated with projects that he’s involved in.”

Arnold Palmer Enterprises Inc. was established in 1961, after the legendary golfer won the 1960 U.S. Open. Overall, Palmer won $3.6 million in prize money during his 52 years on the PGA Tour and Champions tour, according to Forbes.

The kind of person you could 'be a pal with'

Palmer really accumulated his wealth, though, working as a pitchman for a slew of brands, including classics like Cadillac and Rolex. He founded the Golf Channel, which first went on air in 1995, and launched a golf course design business.

His name is slapped all over those cans of iced tea-lemonade hybrids that have developed a cult following. AriZona Beverage Co. generated $200 million in revenue last year from Arnold Palmer drinks.

“The reason that Arnold was such a good pitchman is that he looked very accessible to you,” broadcaster Al Michaels previously told GolfChannel.com. “It wasn’t as if he was on some sort of a throne and he was not approachable.

“I think the fans felt that they could engage with him. Just the way he walked down the fairway, the way he would engage with the gallery, his manner, just the way he looked, he looked like the kind of guy that you could approach and be a pal with.”

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