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Celebrities Propel Pickleball Into The Limelight

The Celebrity Influence: Fueling The Growth of Pickleball

July 31 2023

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

Photo Credit:

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. 

LeBron James

Photo Credit: Barstool Sports

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.

Justin Timberlake

Photo Credit: Good Morning America (ABC News)

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.

Mark Cuban

Photo Credit: The Dink Pickleball Newsletter

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.

Serena Williams

Photo Credit: Selkirk Sport (Facebook)

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. 

Tom Brady

Photo Credit: MarketWatch
The seven-time Super Bowl champ has invested in a Major League Pickleball expansion team via Knighthead Capital Management, LLC, a New-York-based investment group that includes four-time Grand Slam singles champion Kim Clijsters, producer Matt Alvarez, Wall Street bond saleswoman Callie Simpkins, and financial adviser Kaitlyn Kerr.

Drew Brees

Photo Credit:

The legendary NFL quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champ co-founded the Mad Drops Pickleball Club, a team that competes in the MLP. 

Kevin Durant

Photo Credit: OutKick

The two-time NBA world champion and finals MVP is a co-owner of the MLP's Brooklyn Aces, along with Rich Kleiman.

Naomi Osaka

Photo Credit: Forbes

The tennis superstar is part owner of the Miami Pickleball Club, a Challenger-level MLP team.

Patrick Mahomes

Photo Credit: KAKE News (ABC)

The high-profile quarterback has invested between $1 million and $3 million in the Miami Pickleball Club. 

Heidi Klum

Photo Credit: Yahoo

The supermodel and television personality has invested in the Chicago Slice, a new franchise in the MLP.

Eva Longoria

Photo Credit: Landon Burford

The actress, director, and television producer has co-ownership of the D.C. Pickleball team.

Larry Fitzgerald

Photo Credit: Cronkite News - Arizona PBS
The former Cardinals wide receiver co-founded an Arizona-based MLP team called the Arizona Drive. 

Michael Phelps

Photo Credit:

23-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps is also a prominent investor in the Arizona Drive Major League Pickleball team.

Devin Booker

Photo Credit: Yahoo Finance

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. 

Tom Ricketts

Photo Credit: Bleed Cubbie Blue

The owner of the Chicago Cubs has invested in the new Chicago Slice MLP team.


Photo Credit: OnFocus
In 2022, Anheuser-Busch announced a partnership with the MLP to become the official beer sponsor of the league, providing financial support to help grow the sport. The company owns the Atlanta Bouncers, a Challenger-level MLP team.

David Justice

Photo Credit: iMDb
The former MLB All Star and world champion with the Atlanta Braves has invested in the Chicago Slice along with Heidi Klum and Tom Ricketts.

Doug Ellin

Photo Credit: Instagram @mrdougellin

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.

Lindsay Davenport

Photo Credit: Twitter @LDavenport76

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. 

Dirk Nowitzki

Photo Credit: Dallas Morning News

The retired NBA All Star and world champion is a co-owner of the Dallas Pickleball Club, along with Mark Cuban.  

Justin Verlander

Photo Credit: WRUF

The three-time Cy Young winner Justin Verlander co-founded the D.C. Pickleball Team in December 2022. 

Kate Upton

Photo Credit: Kate Upton

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.

Shawn Marion

Photo Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal

The retired NBA All-Star and NBA champ co-founded the Arizona Drive, along with Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Phelps, and Devin Booker. 

Rich Paul

Photo Credit: Crain’s Cleveland Business

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.

A-List Appeal

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?

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