Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka and NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes are said to be the latest pro athletes to join the pickleball craze!
According to Front Office Sports, the two superstars are set to invest in a new Major League Pickleball team that is rumored to be based in Miami, FL.
Tapping Into New Territory
In a previous report, AfroTech shared that fellow superstar athletes LeBron James and Draymond Green were among the group that purchased a team back in September 2022. NBA star Kevin Love, as well as James’ longtime business partner Maverick Carter, are also among those who have joined the pickleball wave.
“When I started playing pickleball, I immediately connected with the sport’s community and its capacity to be both fun and competitive,” said Carter in an interview with CNBC. “To see the sport growing in communities all over is really exciting, and we’re looking forward to bringing our expertise together to try and build a championship team.”
The Latest Investment
Now, while the exact amount of the reported investment into the sport made by Osaka and Mahomes is not yet known, Forbes previously noted that an expansion fee in recent deals sits anywhere between $1 million and $3 million.
There hasn’t been an official announcement made about Osaka and Mahomes’ investment, but in addition, popular sports agent, Rich Paul is also expected to invest in the team.
Investment firm — SC Holdings — was among the very first group to express interest in the new sport, which is steadily becoming more and more popular among fellow athletes and fans alike.
“Pickleball is one of the most exciting growth opportunities in sports because of its committed and engaged community across the U.S.,” said Jason Stein, Managing Partner of SC Holdings, according to a press release. “People are obsessed with the game, as both participants and fans, and we’re excited to use our collective experience and expertise across sports, media, and entertainment to reach new participants and expand the community. We’re thrilled to become partners of Major League Pickleball – which as a league and sport is just getting started.”
So, What Is Pickleball?
Forbes describes Pickleball as a combo of three games — tennis, badminton, and Ping-Pong — and reports that it was invented in 1965.
What’s more, according to Fortune, it’s currently considered the “fastest-growing sport in America.” Additionally, it’s not only a game, but also “a way to build a professional network.”
“The Sports & Fitness Industry Association found that pickleball—the ‘fastest-growing sport in America’ — has attracted 4.8 million players nationwide (a 40% increase since 2020),” the outlet reports.
The Major Pickleball League
In 2022, MLP — founded by Steve Kuhn — had 12 teams to participate in the season, a step up from the eight to kick off the inaugural competition in 2021.
In 2023, another 12 teams are expected to be added to the lineup, including the one being led by a star-studded group of investors.