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How Arnold Palmer came up with the iced tea and lemonade drink that bears his name

It all started on a hot day, decades ago. Find out how legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, who died on Sunday at 87, came up with the drink that bears his name.
/ Source: TODAY

People who have never picked up a golf club in their lives may not have known Arnold Palmer the man, but there's a chance they've downed a few Arnold Palmers on a hot day.

The legendary golfer, who died at 87 on Sunday night, won 95 tournaments and seven major titles while popularizing the game as the first major star of the television era.

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For many others, he is remembered as the guy who lent his name to a refreshing mix of iced tea and lemonade.

All it took for the "Arnold Palmer" to be born was a simple request from the golfer to his wife, Winnie, on a hot day at their home in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

He spoke about its origins in an ESPN: 30 for 30 digital short in 2013.

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"I came home one day and, my wife made a lot of iced tea for lunch, and I said, ‘Hey babe, I’ve got an idea,'' he told ESPN. "You make the iced tea and make a big pitcher, and we’ll just put a little lemonade in it and see how that works.'

"So we mixed it up, and I got the solution about where I wanted it and I put the lemonade in it, and I had it for lunch after working on the golf course. I thought, 'Boy, this is great, babe. I’m gonna to take it when I play golf. I’m gonna to take a thermos of iced tea and lemonade.'''

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And while many likely have their own formula for the proper lemonade-iced tea mix, Palmer is clear on how to do it the right way.

"Oh, iced tea has the dominant side,'' he said. "That dominates the drink and if it doesn't, it isn't really right."

"Iced tea has the dominant side,'' the golfer said about mixing the proper Arnold Palmer. "That dominates the drink and if it doesn't, it isn't really right."AP, Shutterstock

Obviously, it wasn't called an Arnold Palmer at first. That happened after he ordered the drink at a country club in Palm Springs, California, on a 115-degree day.

After he asked for an iced tea with about one-third lemonade, a woman at a nearby table who overheard it ordered the same thing, saying she wanted "an Arnold Palmer."

"All of us turned our head and thought, 'What is she talking about?''' he said. "She said, 'I want what he ordered.' From that day on, it spread like wildfire."

Once he trademarked the drink, which has been sold by Arizona Beverage Co. since 2002, the hardest part for Palmer was ordering it.

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Did he ask for a "me"?

"I was embarrassed to ask for an Arnold Palmer,'' he said. "I always said, 'Can I have an iced tea and put about a third of it in lemonade. And they said, 'Oh, you want an Arnold Palmer!'

"I just finally said, well I won't fight the battle any more, I'll just ask for an Arnold Palmer. I think maybe they won't know who I am."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.