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Get to Know the Major League Pickleball Owners

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Who are the Major League Pickleball owners and why are they helping to grow the sport?

Pickleball has been on a meteoric rise since around 2020, and is showing no signs of slowing down. The popularity of pickleball is undeniable, as more courts are being built all across America and the fanbase grows daily.

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A key reason for the explosive growth in such a short amount of time can be directly attributed to the ownership groups that make up Major League Pickleball. Sports and media moguls alike have tied their name to the league, buying in and helping to usher pickleball into an exciting new era.

Here are the owners that make up Major League Pickleball:

2.) James Blake and Marc Lasry

  • Team: The Lions

When looking at some of the greatest American tennis players of all-time, it's hard to leave James Blake name out of the conversation. Blake appeared in 24 singles finals appearances over his career, winning 10 of them. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he would reach the semi-finals, a feat that required him to take down the legendary Roger Federer on the way.

Blake is joined by businessman Marc Lasry in his purchasing group. Lasry is the CEO of Avenue Capital Group and a co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks.

4.) Charles Attal, Charlie Walker, and Mellie Price

  • Team: Chimeras

Some important context around Major League Pickleball is that the league was for the most part founded in Austin, Texas. Charles Attal and Charlie Walker are co-founders of the concert promoter C3 Presents. Mellie Price is a highly experienced venture fund manager and angel investor. One thing this big three has in common is their love for pickleball.

5.) David Kass and Doug Ulman

  • Team: The Bus

David Kass is the president of Continental Real Estate and comes from a tennis family. However, tennis has taken a backseat for Kass, as he has found a new love in pickleball.

Doug Ulman is the Chief Executive Officer for Pelotonia, a fundraiser that is held to help raise money for cancer research. He has also been a huge help in ensuring that more courts are being built across the United States so the masses can benefit from the great game of pickleball.

6.) Drew Brees and Zubin Mehta

  • Team: Mad Drops Pickleball Club 

If you want to find an owner passionate about the sport of pickleball in general, look no further than Mad Drops Pickleball Club owner Zubin Mehta. Mehta is an Investor and Advisor as well as being the co-founder of UNION, a revolutionary charcuterie snack company.

Recently joining Mehta, Drew Brees officially signed his name as a co-owner. Brees is a Super Bowl winning quarterback and a first-ballot hall of fame candidate once he is eligible.

7.) Mimi and David Mercado

  • Team: The Jackrabbits

The Jackrabbits are currently the third ranked team in Major League Pickleball, boasting a dynamic universal pickleball rating of 23.47. Although the Jackrabbits weren't able to find success at MLP Columbus, they are looking to comeback with a vengeance this season. The Jackrabbits are currently owned by Mimi and David Mercado.

8.) Rick Chan and Kevin Huang

  • Team: Hard Eights

If you are looking for a team with passionate owners, Team Hard Eights is the place for you. During every Hard Eights game at MLP Columbus, their owners were front and center boastfully cheering on their squad.

They are owned by Rick Chan and Kevin Huang. Chan is a managing director and portfolio manager for PIMCO. Huang is a fixed income portfolio manager at DRW who is also an avid pickleballer.

9.) Ritchie Tuazon

  • Team: BLQK

If you want winning, look no further than Team BLQK. They won two of the three events during the past years MLP circuit and they are owned by Ritchie Tuazon. Tuazon is a fixed income portfolio manager at Capital Group. He is also co-founder of BLQK coffee, a coffee brand that donates 25% of it's profits to social justice issues.

10.) Brené Brown and Charles Kiley

  • Team: ATX Pickle Baller 

Backing the ATX Pickle Ballers is the tandem of Brené Brown and Charles Kiley. Brown is an author and lecturer who went viral for her TED talks. She is a motivational speaker who has helped inspired millions to just try even when you can't control the outcome. Kiley is a longtime friend of Brown and is now her chief financial officer. This is a fierce duo of owners that the whole MLP should be on the lookout for.

11.) Bryan Sheffield and Tim Klitch

  • Team: The Ranchers

Heading The Ranchers are businessmen Bryan Sheffield and Tim Klitch. Sheffield is the founder of Parsley Energy, a hydrocarbon exploration company in the Permian Basin.

Klitch worked in banking for over 25 years before stepping into his passion of pickleball. Klitch developed the Austin Pickle Ranch and has been a key reason why we've seen pickleball become even more accessible. One thing is for sure, it's impossible not to spot Klitch at MLP event's wearing his iconic cowboy hat.

12.) Wes Hurt, Tim Berry, Brad Beckworth, and Nav Sooch

  • Team: Clean Cause

Clean Cause has the backing of several major big names in the entrepreneurial and business front. Brad Beckworth is a prominent attorney and a small business owner, Wes Hurt is a serial entrepreneur, Tim Berry is the founder of Pennybacker Capital, and Nav Sooch is is the co-founder of Silicon Labs. Together they make a all-star squad of owners.

13.) Tom Brady and Kim Clijsters

  • Team: TBD

Starting the batch of new owners in MLP are legendary quarterback Tom Brady and tennis legend Kim Clijsters. Brady and Clijsters acquired a team in the MLP mid-way through last season, so they will have to wait until next season to find out what franchise they will own. These are two of the fiercest competitors the world of sports has ever seen, don't be surprised to see that intensity in the owners box.

14.) LeBron James, Mav Carter, Draymond Green, Kevin Love

  • Team: TBD

Through LRMR ventures which has seen LeBron invest in a number of professional sports teams as well as his own media company, was announced to be apart of a purchasing group for an MLP team. The group is joined by notable NBA champions Draymond Green and Kevin Love. James longtime business partner and friend Mav Carter also joins the ownership group.

15.) Kevin Durant and Rich Kleinman

  • Team: TBD

It's hard to rival the sports media empire that Kevin Durant and Rich Kleinman built with their Boardroom brand, and they are adding another asset to that company with the purchasing of an MLP team. Durant has been seen on social media playing pickleball for fun and has admitted he's an enthusiast of the sport. I can't wait to hear what kind of trash-talking may ensue between Kevin Durant and LeBron James on the pickleball court.

16.) Patrick Mahomes, Naomi Osaka, Nick Kyrgios, Rich Paul

  • Team: TBD

A team coming to Major League Pickleball next season with almost every flavor of the sports industry is headed by Patrick Mahomes. Joining Mahomes is tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, top--ranked mens tennis player Nick Kyrgios, and sports agent Rich Paul. There are some heavy hitters and frequent winners in this ownership group that should be more than competitive.

17.) Anheuser-Busch

  • Team: TBD

The last ownership name to be tied to a team is the iconic brand Anheuser-Busch, who became the first Fortune 250 company to make a big investment into Major League Pickleball. This agreement will give Anheuser-Busch a founding partnership with the larger MLP league and control over one of the league’s expansion teams – with ownership over everything from who the team drafts to which sponsors they bring on to support.

18.) Richard Chaifetz

Richard Chaifetz
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Richard Chaifetz is the billionaire founder of the private investment firm The Chaifetz Group. He's also one of the world's top investors, licensed neuropsychologist and philanthropist. With a resume like that, one can only imagine how successful his St. Louis Shock franchise will be!

His son Ross Chaifetz will be involved in the day-to-day management of the team as they look to bring a professional sports championship back to their hometown. The Shock will start their season in the Premier Level.

19.) Ryan DeVos

Ryan DeVos
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Ryan DeVos (son of Betsy and Dick DeVos - founders of Amway) is the Vice President of Shareholder Engagement for the NBA's Orlando Magic as well as a member of the Board of Directors of Misfits Gaming, an Esports organization based in South Florida.

DeVos will own the Orlando Squeeze, who will start their season in the Challenger Level.

20.) Odell Beckham Jr.

odell beckham
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Odell Beckham Jr. is a three time NFL Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion, and is bringing his business acumen to professional pickleball as one of the owners of the Washington D.C. expansion team.

The ownership group–which also features Eva Longoria, Justin Verlander and Kate Upton–also purchased 50% of the Mexican soccer team Club Necaxa of Liga MX.

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