Drew Brees Joins Pickleball Revolution as Co-Owner

The Rise of Pickleball and Drew Brees’ Unexpected Investment

A New Venture for the Former NFL Quarterback

Former NFL quarterback Drew Brees recently made headlines by announcing his stake in the Mad Drops Pickleball Club, a professional pickleball team based in Austin, Texas. This investment signifies a new chapter in Brees’ life as he delves into the world of an unlikely but popular sport. Brees is joined by notable figures like Jim Buss, co-owner of the LA Lakers, in the investment group that acquired the Mad Drops. The team is part of the Major League Pickleball, consisting of 12 teams competing in this rapidly growing sport.

The Major Pickleball League and its Influential Figures

Steve Kuhn, the founder of the Major Pickleball League (MLP) in 2021, is the visionary behind the league’s establishment. Kuhn is also the owner of Dreamland, a prominent recreational entertainment center located in Dripping Springs, Texas. Brees and Buss are not the only high-profile individuals involved in this venture. Marc Lasry, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, and former tennis professional James Blake also hold early stakes in the MLP, showcasing the league’s appeal to renowned personalities from various sports backgrounds.

From Retirement Pastime to Investment Opportunity

What initially may have seemed like a joke or a casual mention of pickleball by Brees during his retirement transition quickly transformed into a serious investment decision. Pickleball, originally popular among retirement communities, has now emerged as the fastest-growing sport in the United States. Brees’ interest in the game as a recreational player led him to recognize the immense potential of pickleball and contribute to its growth.

In Brees’ own words, “I am an avid pickleball player, fan, and student of the game. I look forward to helping raise awareness around the incredible players and competitions in MLP, helping grow the sport of pickleball, and fostering overall fan engagement.”

Smart Investments: Athletes Tapping into Sports Franchise Ownership

A Shift in Athletes’ Investment Strategies

Historically, many retired professional athletes faced financial difficulties due to ill-advised investments in low-margin restaurant franchises, speculative businesses, or high-priced real estate. Examples include Curt Shilling, a six-time MLB All-Star who lost $50 million on a video gaming startup, and Mark Brunell, former NFL player and current quarterback coach, who filed for bankruptcy protection after investments in failed real estate ventures. However, recent trends indicate a shift towards more informed and lucrative investment paths among athletes.

Following the Peter Lynch Approach

One investment philosophy that athletes are adopting is the practice of investing in what they know. Legendary fund manager Peter Lynch achieved tremendous success by following this simple strategy. Athletes are recognizing the potential of sports franchise ownership and capitalizing on their intimate knowledge of the industry.

Examples of Athletes Owning Sport Franchises

LeBron James, for instance, has been vocal about his interest in owning an NBA team, particularly if expansion occurs in Las Vegas. However, James’ investment portfolio already includes a minority ownership stake in Fenway Sports, granting him ownership rights in renowned sports franchises like the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Liverpool FC.

NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is a minority owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, while Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes holds a stake in the Kansas City Royals. Basketball legend Michael Jordan serves as the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets, an investment that has proved immensely profitable. Jordan purchased the franchise for $175 million, and its current value stands at over $1.5 billion. Magic Johnson is part of the investment group that acquired the LA Dodgers for approximately $2 billion in 2012.

The trend extends beyond basketball and baseball. Tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams made headlines when they purchased a stake in the Miami Dolphins in 2009. Serena’s ownership portfolio now includes Angel City FC, an NWSL team based in Los Angeles. Notably, several former women soccer players, including icons like Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm, also hold ownership stakes in LA’s NWSL team. Furthermore, Naomi Osaka, another tennis superstar, has invested in the North Carolina Courage, adding to the growing list of tennis players with involvement in professional sports franchises.


Drew Brees’ venture into pickleball ownership represents both an individual investment decision and a broader trend among athletes pursuing sports franchise ownership. With the rise of pickleball as the fastest-growing sport in the US, Brees saw an opportunity to contribute to its growth and enhance overall fan engagement. Moreover, the shift towards informed investment strategies among athletes showcases the potential for lucrative partnerships between renowned individuals and sports franchises.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is pickleball?

Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. It is played on a small court with a low net, using a plastic ball and solid paddles.

2. How popular is pickleball?

Pickleball has experienced tremendous growth in popularity, becoming the fastest-growing sport in the United States. Its appeal spans various age groups, from young athletes to retirees.

3. What is the Major Pickleball League (MLP)?

The Major Pickleball League (MLP) is a professional pickleball league founded in 2021. It consists of 12 teams, including the Mad Drops Pickleball Club, in which Drew Brees has invested.

4. How have athletes’ investment strategies evolved in recent years?

Athletes have shifted towards more informed investment strategies, such as sports franchise ownership. This approach allows them to leverage their knowledge of the industry and potentially generate significant returns on their investments.

5. Are there other notable athletes who own sports franchises?

Yes, several athletes from various sports own sports franchises. Examples include LeBron James, who holds ownership stakes in Fenway Sports and expresses interest in owning an NBA team, and Serena Williams, who has invested in both the Miami Dolphins and Angel City FC.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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