A leisurewear brand which broke boundaries across the globe, supervisory roles on the development of several hundred golf courses worldwide and a drink enjoyed in his own kitchen which spawned a $200million enterprise: this is the remarkable story of Arnold Palmer's extraordinary earning power.

This week the golfing world mourns the loss of the man affectionately known as 'The King' after he passed away in a Pittsburgh hospital on Sunday.

Palmer led a transformative life on the course - the first man to earn $100,000 in a PGA Tour season, the first man to break the $1m career winnings barrier, a seven-time Major winner and champion of 62 PGA events - but his legacy goes beyond 18 holes and has expanded rapidly since his retirement in 2006.

In 2015, the Pennsylvania native brought in cumulative earnings of more than $40m, according to Forbes. It made him among the biggest earners of any retired sportsperson globally and increased his personal wealth to an estimated $700m.


But 2015 was no fluke. Palmer had been consistently collecting a vast annual income thanks to a vast and diverse business empire for half a century.

In 1961, Arnold Palmer Enterprises was established by the golfer and lawyer friend Mark McCormack to make the most of his increasing prominence in the sport.

In the 55 years since, the company has been Palmer's business Swiss army knife, managing multiple interests in industries including clothing, food and beverage, and sports equipment.

At its head sits the clothing label which has become a household name worldwide.

Over time, his brand - and its now iconic multi-coloured umbrella logo - spread its wings across the United States and into Canada, Europe and, most notably, Asia.

There are more than 400 dedicated Arnold Palmer stores worldwide, including outlets in Japan, South Korea, Great Britain, Norway, Germany, France, Spain and many other countries besides.

In the 1970s, APE teamed up with a Japanese manufacturer and distributor - Renown - to broaden its horizons. The result is a leisurewear juggernaut which has picked up $100m of annual sales in the Far East.

Then there's the iced tea.

What started as a post-round favourite whipped up by wife Winnie in the Palmer kitchen has snowballed into a business with over $200m in sales annually.

In 2001, when IMG - the sports management agency established by McCormack with Palmer as its figurehead - negotiated the use of the golfer's image and name with a three-man start-up company, Innovative Flavors LLC, it would have been impossible to predict just how quickly it would grown.

The 'Arnold Palmer' - half iced tea, half lemonade - was a summer staple in clubhouse bars across the US but not so well known further afield.

That all changed. The product proved to be so popular - particularly among younger demographics, and even those who couldn't tell the difference between a sand wedge and a lunchtime snack - that in 2002 Innovative Flavors had to offload the distribution rights to a family drinks manufacturer in Brooklyn.

Arnold Palmer Tea now accounts for 25 per cent of the revenue of that distributor - the AriZona Beverage Company.

But Palmer's influence doesn't stop there.

Over 50 years, APE have been engaged in the construction of 306 golf courses across five continents.

Palmer played a role in each, spanning 37 of the 50 US States, 24 other countries including, perhaps unsurprisingly, China. During the 1990s, more than 20 employees worked in the Palmer's design offices in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

The Arnold Palmer Design Company is nowhere near as prolific today but the impact of Palmer and his team of designers evidently is - with their handiwork on display

Though The King was not the architect, his association with a new links was a symbol of status. Just like the umbrella stitched into his polo shirts.

He played a founding role in the Golf Channel in 1995, becoming its first chairman, and was a brand ambassador for the likes of Rolex and Callaway Golf at the time of his passing.

Palmer once told McCormack: 'I made clear...from the beginning that I didn't feel comfortable pitching a product or service I wouldn't use or didn't think was very good.

'That just seemed dishonest to me and I was pretty sure the public would see right through it.'

One such project which failed to get an endorsement was a 'revolutionary manure dispenser'.

But few opportunities went begging - from the $15,000-per-year deal with Coca Cola signed in 1967 to the restaurant in La Quinta, where the great man had a home, where the walls are plastered with memorabilia commemorating golf's first legend.

There's more. Palmer endorsed dry cleaners, motor oil, tractors and catsup - a tomato sauce similar to ketchup. He put his name to wines produced by the Californian Luva Vineyards and an online Cadillac dealer back in Pennsylvania.

Once upon a time he even guest-hosted an episode of 'The Tonight Show'.

That's why he was 'The King'.