Celebrities Propel Pickleball Into The Limelight
The Celebrity Influence: Fueling The Growth of Pickleball
Pickleball has gone from slow-but-steady to exponential increases in popularity in recent years, capturing the attention of everyone from common sports enthusiasts to celebrities and high-profile public figures.
As more and more celebrities are putting their money where their mouths are, the sport is becoming increasingly popular across the mass market, leading to more participants in the sport therefore demand for products that are part of the industry.
With their influence and resources, celebrities are playing a significant role in shaping the future of pickleball and positioning it as one of the most captivating sports of our time.
With its mix of elements from tennis, badminton, and ping pong, pickleball has garnered a wave of excitement, prompting a surge of investments from well-known leaders in several different industries. Why are all these high-profile leaders becoming involved in pickleball, and how will their involvement fuel the growth of the explosive sport?
Celebrities in Pickleball: A Rising Trend
Let's take a closer look at some of the well-known figures associated with pickleball.
Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and prolific philanthropist, is an avid pickleball player and has expressed his love for the sport on multiple occasions. Gates has been actively involved in promoting the sport, both as a player and as an investor. He’s donated money to build pickleball courts across the United States and has appeared in several pickleball ads, going so far as to call it one of his favorite pastimes.
The renowned NBA superstar LeBron James has also been seen enjoying pickleball during his leisure time, and is also one of its highest-profile investors. In 2022, James co-founded the SLAM Squad, a Major League Pickleball (MLP) team.
Singer and actor Justin Timberlake has taken a keen interest in pickleball and has been spotted playing the sport at various events. He has teamed up with Tiger Woods to build a 600-acre Florida resort “town” that will feature, among other things, 12 pickleball courts.
The well-known entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, has recognized the potential of pickleball as a popular sport. He became the first owner of one of six pickleball teams in the VIBE Pickleball League, a competitor to the MLP.
The 23-time Grand Slam tennis singles champion took up pickleball in 2022 and has invested in the MLP. She was even scheduled to compete in the upcoming USA Pickleball National Championships in November 2023 but withdrew due to injury.
The legendary NFL quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champ co-founded the Mad Drops Pickleball Club, a team that competes in the MLP.
The two-time NBA world champion and finals MVP is a co-owner of the MLP's Brooklyn Aces, along with Rich Kleiman.
The tennis superstar is part owner of the Miami Pickleball Club, a Challenger-level MLP team.
The high-profile quarterback has invested between $1 million and $3 million in the Miami Pickleball Club.
The supermodel and television personality has invested in the Chicago Slice, a new franchise in the MLP.
The actress, director, and television producer has co-ownership of the D.C. Pickleball team.
23-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps is also a prominent investor in the Arizona Drive Major League Pickleball team.
The Phoenix Suns guard took up the sport in 2020 during the NBA’s COVID-19 hiatus. He, too, is an investor in the Arizona Drive, along with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Phelps.
The owner of the Chicago Cubs has invested in the new Chicago Slice MLP team.
The American television producer, writer, and director, best known for creating the HBO series Entourage, co-founded a pickleball company called The Dink Pickleball in 2020. The company provides pickleball instruction, training, and equipment.
The former world No. 1-ranked professional tennis player took up pickleball in 2018, before the sport's popularity took off. She also co-founded the Chicago Slice.
The retired NBA All Star and world champion is a co-owner of the Dallas Pickleball Club, along with Mark Cuban.
The three-time Cy Young winner Justin Verlander co-founded the D.C. Pickleball Team in December 2022.
Along with her husband Justin Verlander, Kate Upton has been involved in pickleball for several years and is a co-owner of the MLP’s D.C. Pickleball team.
The retired NBA All-Star and NBA champ co-founded the Arizona Drive, along with Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Phelps, and Devin Booker.
Rich Paul is co-founder and CEO of Klutch Sports Group, a sports agency that represents some of the biggest names in the NBA, and is a co-owner of the Miami Pickleball Club.
As the pickleball market continues to grow and evolve, the role of celebrities, sports figures, and high-profile business leaders publicly involved with the sport will only expand as well – driving innovation, expansion, and new opportunities. What GOAT can pickleball claim next?