The company boldly announced earlier this week that its “Armless Palmer” iced tea lemonades are being renamed to “Dead Billionaire” — because an unnamed “enterprise” was allegedly threatening to sue the company for using the Palmer name commercially.
Liquid Death claimed customers would love this new version in an Instagram caption.
“Because it’s the EXACT same thing, only now it has a way cooler name that won’t require us to fight a senseless legal battle with a large enterprise who sent us a letter saying we can’t use the word ‘Palmer’ and who are also partnered with a giant iced tea corporation,” the company wrote. “Both of whom have far more $$$ to burn on legal fees than we do.”
Golfer Arnold Palmer famously created the classic drink by mixing iced tea and lemonade in the 1960s, but it was widely popularized in 2002 when AriZona Beverages started selling it in 99-cent cans bearing Palmer’s licensed image and signature.
This alleged threat of legal action arrives at a time when brands cheekily feuding publicly is common, often to suspicious benefit for both parties. Liquid Death already appears to have changed the can’s name and branding on Amazon.
Though the rebrand announcement had some support, many fans of the golfer were upset with the “Dead Billionaire” dig.
Forbes estimated that Palmer’s inflation-adjusted career earnings were $1.3 billion when he died in 2016, which certainly placed him firmly in the polarizing echelons of wealth. His accessible image and extensive philanthropy, however, made him more beloved than not.
“Arnold Palmer was one of the most humble and philanthropic star athletes ever,” sports broadcaster Jeff Eisenband wrote on X. “His estate is protective of the brand because @DrinkAriZona holds the distribution rights and sells their product for an affordable 99 cents.”
He continued, “Not the flex Liquid Death thinks this is.”
Palmer, whose career spanned more than six decades and included 62 PGA Tour titles, won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004. He started a foundation aimed at education and natural land protection, and died of complications from heart problems.
Fans of Palmer, including many involved in the golf world, sounded off about Liquid Death’s announcement.