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John Thompson III: The American Cornhole League’s Newest Investor

The former Georgetown basketball coach is backing the classic game that’s rapidly growing in popularity — and headed for the Olympics.

The American Cornhole League already boasts 120,000 players and has organized 30,000 tournaments. Now, it adds a big-name investor to its roster.

Former Georgetown men’s basketball coach John Thompson III and Asland Capital Partners CEO James Simmons III have invested in the league as part of its first proper funding round. The terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

“Is it a risk? Absolutely,” Thompson told CNBC. “But all investments are a risk. I feel strongly about the management team that’s we’re putting together and the team already in place.”

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Cornhole, that classic tailgate game that one of your friends always takes too seriously, is both a game for all skill levels and a rapidly growing professional sport. As the ACL likes to say, “anyone can play, anyone can win.” The skill involved in cornhole is learned, as opposed to other sports for which sheer athleticism or height make a massive difference.

Thompson and Simmons aren’t the only ones who believe in the sport’s growth potential. The ACL, which is in its fifth season, has secured sponsorships with companies like DraftKings, Pit Boss, and Guaranteed Rate.

The ACL also has a TV deal with ESPN, and the Worldwide Leader reports a 3% increase in viewership year-over-year. 468,000 viewers watched the Pro Invitational on ESPN, as CNBC notes.

With this influx of cash and the networks that the new investors provide, ACL Commissioner Stacey Moore told Sportico that the league can now set its sights on its next major milestone: the Summer Olympics.

“We’re looking forward to adding on partners that they can bring to the table and then business expansion in general,” she said. “We like to say that we’re the only sport that can be played at another professional or college sporting event. The portability of our game is unique. And, obviously, we want to make cornhole an Olympic sport.”

It may sound far-fetched, but cornhole would not be the first yard game to hit the Olympics. Tug of War was an Olympic sport from 1900 to 1920, and badminton has been a continuous feature of the Games since 1988.

No word yet on whether your other friend, who insists he gets better at cornhole after a few beers, is interested in joining. But we can confirm that the momentum behind this sport and its premier circuit has hit a new gear thanks to JT3.

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