Following the passing of Arnold Palmer last Sunday, there were obviously a flood of tributes and retrospectives. The ones I found most interesting were about Palmer’s legacy not as a professional golfer, but as one of the original pitchmen.
“Mr. Palmer earned an estimated $875 million through endorsements, appearances, licensing and golf course design, according to Forbes. That places him behind only Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods in lifetime earnings for athlete-pitchmen. With many products bearing his name still selling briskly, Mr. Palmer’s estate will keep making millions for years to come.”
That’s pretty crazy when you consider that Palmer was in his prime as an athlete in the 1960s. Many well-known athletes in that era made very little money (relative to today’s athletes) because the television and marketing dollars weren’t yet in play. But not Palmer.
Also loved this bit:
“But in the fall of 1959, Mr. Palmer agreed to work with Mr. McCormack on an exclusive basis. Mr. McCormack wanted to sign a contract, but Mr. Palmer preferred a handshake.
That handshake, legend has it, was the foundation of one of the most lucrative partnerships in the history of sports. Mr. McCormack would go on to establish IMG, the powerhouse sports marketing company, which merged with William Morris Endeavor in 2013. And from the start, Mr. Palmer was among his most important stars.”
Didn’t realize how instrumental Palmer was in the founding of IMG. What a legacy.