There’s a new sport that has captured the United States, so much so that several NBA stars have decided to invest in a professional venture.
LeBron James, Draymond Green and Kevin Love are among businessmen investing in Major League Pickleball. The ownership group also includes Maverick Carter, who is the CEO of his and James’ entertainment brand SpringHill Company, Paul Rivera, who is SpringHill’s CMO, and Daniel Sillman, who is the SC Holdings and Relevant Sports Group co-owner and CEO.
They join a star-studded ownership rank that already includes names like former Super Bowl champion Drew Brees, former World No. 4 tennis star James Blake and Ryan Serhant, star from Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York and Founder and CEO of real estate brand Serhant.
What is pickleball you may ask? Think of it as a hybrid between badminton, tennis and, as wild as it may sound, Wiffle Ball. According to the MLP’s press release, the sport will be expanding from 12 to 16 teams, and in 2023, the players will compete in six tournaments for more than $2 million.
“Having SC Holdings, LRMR Ventures, and their incredible group as owners and investors in Major League Pickleball is not just great for MLP, it’s a watershed moment for pickleball in general,” MLP Founder Steve Kuhn said in a statement. “Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the country, building communities in cities and towns all over the world. This investment and the platform that this group provides will significantly help us with our goal to reach 40 million pickleball players by 2030.”
The 2022 season finale will be in Columbus, Ohio from Oct. 14–16, and the tournament will have MLP’s largest single-event prize purse—worth $319,000. The winning team will take home $100,000.
This is not the first time James has invested in a professional sport. James and Carter invested in Fenway Sports Group, which includes the Red Sox, Penguins, Liverpool FC and NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing. This year, James and the Yankees visited AC Milan, an Italian soccer club.
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Daily Cover: ‘Pickleball Is the Wild, Wild West’: Inside the Fight Over the Fastest-Growing Sport in America