Anheuser-Busch Is Entering the Pickleball Game

The beer behemoth is the first Fortune 500 company to purchase a Major League Pickleball team

A group of young adults playing Pickleball on an outdoor court
The paddle sport has been growing rapidly in the United States
Getty Images

Following in the footsteps of pro athletes like LeBron James and Tom Brady, Anheuser-Busch wants in on the pickleball craze that’s sweeping the United States. The Belgium-based company is purchasing a Major League Pickleball (MLP) team that will start playing during the 2023 season. It’s the first Fortune 500 company to buy into the popular paddle sport.

“We love the accessibility of pickleball and we think it’s an amazing opportunity for us to gain relevance and excitement for our brands,” Matt Davis, head of Anheuser-Busch’s U.S. sports marketing and partnerships, told CNBC in an interview.

While the exact amount that Anheuser-Busch paid for the team remains undisclosed, a league representative told CNBC that the going rate is currently seven figures. For the 2023 season, the league is growing from 12 to 16 teams. AB said that it will be very involved in team operations, including choosing players, sponsors and a general manager, which the company hopes to select in the near future.

Pickleball saw a surge in popularity during the pandemic because it allowed people to safely socialize and exercise outdoors. According to paddle maker Selkirk, Google searches for “pickleball” have increased 219% in the United States during the past five years. It’s seen as lower-impact than tennis, even though injuries from playing the sport are quite common.

I’ve personally never played pickleball, but all I know is I start craving dill spears every time I read about it.

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