LeBron James Sparked Billions of Interest to Major League Pickleball, Says Founder

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 22, 2023

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on January 18, 2023 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Major League Pickleball is exploding in popularity, and it can apparently thank LeBron James for part of that expanded interest.

MLP founder Steve Kuhn told TMZ Sports that James' decision to buy a team with Kevin Love and Draymond Green led to billions of eyeballs in engagement.

"This year, stories about Major League Pickleball hit 11 billion eyeballs," Kuhn said. "And the LeBron announcement alone was four billion."

As TMZ noted, the King is far from the only professional athlete who is involved in the league. Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, Naomi Osaka and Durant are among those who have purchased into the expanding league.

Kendall Baker of Axios noted MLP doubled its number of teams from 12 to 24 for the 2023 campaign. What's more, it will also include promotion and relegation and double the number of events from three to six.

Throw in $5 million in prize money and payouts, and the league is trending toward expanded growthβ€”especially if James is generating so much interest.