For many, a recent Arnold Palmer reference in “The Simpson’s” 28th season premiere became an eerie tribute.
There was an Arnold Palmer reference tonight on The Simpsons. So weird. pic.twitter.com/4obYfm2B5T
— Kirk Nawrotzky (@KirkNawrotzky) September 26, 2016
The golfing great known as “The King” died Sunday after struggling with heart problems. Palmer was 87 years old.
He won seven majors in his career—which included clinching the British Open in 1961 and 1962—and racked up 62 PGA Tour victories.
He’s also recognized for bringing golf to the masses. CNN reported that the “now billion-dollar industry worldwide” happened “in large part because of [Palmer’s] legacy.”
Athletes, politicians, golfing organizations and more shared tributes on Twitter:
Thanks Arnold for your friendship, counsel and a lot of laughs. Your philanthropy and humility are part of your legend.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) September 26, 2016
Arnold Palmer has passed away at 87 years old. Rest in peace, Arnie. You are forever a legend in golf and in life.
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) September 26, 2016
I’m heart broken tonight. Arnold Palmer defined what it is be a professional inside and outside the ropes. All of golf says ‘thanks Arnold’
— Peter Jacobsen (@JakeTrout) September 26, 2016
Here’s to The King who was as extraordinary on the links as he was generous to others. Thanks for the memories, Arnold. pic.twitter.com/UlyfpIBOL2
— President Obama (@POTUS) September 26, 2016
— USGA (@USGA) September 26, 2016
Saddened to hear that Arnold Palmer has passed away. A genuine sporting great. A golfing superstar and a gentleman. #RIPArnie
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) September 26, 2016
Really sad news: The great Arnold Palmer, the “King,” has died. There was no-one like him – a true champion! He will be truly missed.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2016
Rest well, Arnie. Next year, Augusta won’t be quite the same. We’ll miss your humor, kindness and that twinkle in your eye. #ArnoldPalmer
— Condoleezza Rice (@CondoleezzaRice) September 26, 2016
RIP Arnold Palmer. He taught all of us that golf, decency and respect were cool. It’s a very sad day
Thank you Mr. Palmer for being The King
— Michael Breed (@MichaelBreed) September 26, 2016
A toast to the great Arnold Palmer. pic.twitter.com/8TMgAtUIiI
— Mike & Mike (@MikeAndMike) September 26, 2016
Sad to hear today of the passing of Arnold Palmer. He lived his life to the fullest with a personality that impacted positively on so many.
— Padraig Harrington (@padraig_h) September 26, 2016
Every other golfer was respected but Arnold Palmer was loved. He will be sadly missed.
— Colin Montgomerie (@montgomeriefdn) September 26, 2016
Saddened to hear of the passing of #ArnoldPalmer a man who brought golf to the people and made us all part of Arnie’s Army
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 26, 2016
Arnold Palmer was a model of integrity, passion, and commitment. A great American who struck his way into history and our hearts.
— John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) September 26, 2016
One needn’t be a fan of the link—nor of Palmer’s famed lemonade and iced tea concoction—to appreciate the late golfer’s legacy, however. He paved the way for other athletes to partner with organizations through endorsement deals.
Arnold Palmer was the first golf player to make $1m from playing the sport.
But he made much more than that from his many off-course endorsements, putting his name to a variety of products and services, from United Airlines to Cadillac cars.
Wilson continued that although it’s now common for athletes to have endorsement and sponsorship contracts, roughly 50 years ago those partnerships were “ground-breaking”:
With his winning persona and looks, not to mention golfing ability, Palmer showed that a sportsman or woman could make more from commercial deals than from prize money alone.
It is a legacy for which today’s high earning stars, earning astronomical sums from their own deals, should be eternally grateful.
Throughout his life, Palmer was a model for athletes seeking sponsorships. Forbes contributor Patrick Rishe wrote:
When you talk about all the E-Score metrics pertaining to personality characteristics that corporations and fans resonant with, The King had all of them.
Likability. Trust. Hero. Champion. Attractiveness. Charisma. Longevity. Humility.
According to one report, Palmer amassed $675 million in his lifetime. And as recently as early 2014, a Forbes report estimated he earned $40 million annually in product endorsements.
At the age of 85!
Sponsorship contracts and endorsement opportunities can now come as much from YouTube and Twitch as they do from Olympic pools and golf tournaments, but Palmer’s ability to capture audiences’ attention and work with organizations is admirable whether you’re an athlete or a PR/marketing pro.
For those looking to secure a new client, sponsor or contract, perhaps one of Palmer’s oft-quoted witticisms can inspire you:
The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.