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Tom Brady: Major League Pickleball Team Owner

The Buccaneers QB is joined by the former No. 1 women’s tennis player in the world, Kim Clijsters, in the latest star-studded ownership group to venture into Major League Pickleball.

LeBron James recently joined the Pickleball frenzy. Kevin Love and Draymond Green jumped in with him. Drew Brees already occupied this space in July. Are you not entertained?

Well, maybe now you will be. 

Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady is the latest distinguished athlete and investor to join the pickleball craze, purchasing a Major League Pickleball team alongside tennis Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters prior to the start of the 2023 MLP season.

Brady’s group is led by Knighthead Capital Management, LLC, which includes co-founder of Knighthead, Tom Wagner, acclaimed producer Matt Alvarez, Wall Street bond saleswoman Callie Simpkins, and financial advisor Kaitlyn Kerr, who will serve as general manager.

It’s another group filled with winners — and they’ll take their competitive spirit to the kitchen as the Pickleball world continues to evolve.

“Tom Brady, Kim Clijsters, and Knighthead Capital Management are champions in their fields and will now be champions for Major League Pickleball,” said MLP Founder Steve Kuhn. “What really shines through in working with these amazing individuals is their passion for the sport.”

Financial terms have not been disclosed, but it’ll likely be enough to attract more eyes and recognition to America’s fastest-growing sport, as noted by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

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In discussing the latest group of prominent investors, Kuhn laid out the long-term goal for the game.

 “We are thrilled to welcome them to our unrivaled roster of strategic partners, who are individually and collectively instrumental in helping us elevate professional pickleball, showcase the joy it brings to millions of people around the globe, and further our ’40 by 30’ campaign – our mission to reach 40 million pickleball players by 2030.”

USA Pickleball announced in February of 2022 that there are more than 4.8 million participants in the sport nationwide. That number is bolstered by a growth rate of 39.3% over the past two years.

The expansion team is a part of a three-part growth plan for 2023. The existing dozen teams will increase to 16, while the three events will double to six. Additionally, player prize money and payouts in 2023 will surpass $2 million.

“What excites me the most about becoming an MLP owner is that I get to help shape the future of pickleball, a sport I have come to love, with great people – who also happen to be some of my best friends,” said Clijsters, a six-time tennis Grand Slam champion who regularly plays pickleball with her investment partners, namely Simpkins and Kerr. 

Clijsters explained how her experience playing tennis drove her to love the sport that intersects tennis, badminton, and ping pong.

“I’m thrilled to help showcase professional pickleball and make an impact on the sport through my experience gained in the top levels of professional tennis.”

The 2022 MLP season finale will showcase 48 players in Columbus, Ohio, from Oct. 14-16 to compete for a prize purse worth $319,000 —  the largest prize in the history of pickleball. Fans can attend at the new Pickle & Chill in Ohio or watch via YouTube, MSG Networks, and CBS Sports Network.

Brady and Co. join an illustrious group of athletes and team owners, including James, Green, Love, Brees, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee), famed lecturer Brené Brown, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks Marc Lasry, former tennis player James Blake, healthcare executive Molly Joseph, and Ryan Serhant, a real estate broker featured on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York and Founder/CEO of Serhant.

The frenzy isn’t stopping anytime soon. And as we keep saying: watch this space. It’s only bound to grow.

Wanna learn more about Pickleball? Check out Boardroom’s pieces from Kenny Ducey and Anthony Puccio

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About The Author
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. Puccio has 10 years of experience in journalism and content creation, previously working for SB Nation, The Associated Press, New York Daily News, SNY, and Front Office Sports. In 2016, he received New York University's CCTOP scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University. He can be spotted a mile away thanks to his plaid suits and thick New York accent. Don't believe us? Check his Twitter @APooch.