Money Making Craze: Why NFL, NBA and Tennis Stars Want A Piece Of The $253 Billion Pickleball Pie

By Michelle Greene Rhodes

  • Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes, Nick Kyrgios and sports agent Rich Paul are investing in a new Miami based Pickleball team
  • Pickleball is a sport expected to reach a $253.8B market size by 2028

Pickleball has now hit the big leagues as 36 million Americans played the new sport last year. More traditional professional athletes and celebrities are also cashing in on this sports craze with the likes of Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes, Nick Kyrgios and sports agent Rich Paul. They are set to invest in a new Major League Pickleball (MLP) team based in Miami with hopes to cash in big on a sport expected to reach a $253.8 billion market size by 2028.

Why This Matters: Wealthy homeowners and developers have responded to the popularity by adding Pickleball courts in their surrounding areas. Also, Pickleball is becoming so popular that investors are going wild. Stocks of companies that make paddles and nets were up 30% in the last year, just like the American sport itself. 

Equipment maker Selkirk experienced 100% growth year-over-year at big box retailers like Walmart (WMT -0.90%), Costco (COST -0.39%) and Dicks (DKS +0.92%). Developer LifeTime plans to build 600-700 pickleball courts by the end of 2023. So more than likely a game or a court is coming to a city near you. 

Success leaves clues they say, and there are several Black athletes investing in different pickleball teams as it continues to surge in popularity. NBA players LeBron James and Kevin Durant are among MLP team owners gearing up to make a splash as the sport continues to expand beyond 16 teams. The expansion fee for recent MLP deals was between $1 million and $3 million, according to Forbes.

What’s Next: The U.S. Open Pickleball Championships has seen a 25% uptick in sponsorships. In 2023, players will compete in six tournaments across six U.S. cities for more than $2 million. Do you see the opportunity here? It’s time to start thinking about how you and your tribe can pool some coins together and cash in on this?

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