Two more major athletes are investing in the next big sport—pickleball.
- Tennis player Naomi Osaka and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes have joined other significant athletes in investing in a new Major League Pickleball team.
- The pickleball league started in 2021 with eight teams. This year it grew to 12, and it expects to add another 12 franchises in 2023 as the sport continues to skyrocket.
- The sport was created in 1965 but has attracted a considerable fan base in the last few years.
- The Sports & Fitness Industry Association counted 4.8 million pickleball players in the U.S. in 2021 and is calling it the fastest-growing sport in America.
Why it’s news
Pickleball has been sweeping the nation as many people from kids to seniors are picking up a racquet and hitting the court.
The sport is expected to have over 40 million players worldwide by 2030, causing many athletes to invest in the early stages with hopes of the sport continuing to grow.
According to USA Pickleball, the sport is considered a cross between tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. The game has recently exploded—growing 40% from 2019 to 2021, making it America’s fastest-growing sport.
In 2021, a Major League Pickleball league was created, and being in the beginning stages has garnered many significant athlete investments. Athletes include Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Naomi Osaka, and many others.
Many players have opted to pour money into the sport while it is still early. Considering it is harder to invest in a long-established sport, the players are getting in on the money while the price is lower and expected to grow fast.
Major League Pickleball was founded by hedge funder Steve Kuhn and started in 2021 with eight teams. This year it grew to 12, and it expects to add another 12 franchises in 2023.
The league hopes to double its tournaments to six and offer over $2 million in prize money, potentially growing to $5 million.