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Buccaneers’ Tom Brady purchases Major League Pickleball expansion team

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is the latest superstar athlete to purchase the rights to a Major League Pickleball team.

Brady is a part of an ownership group that purchased the team for the 2023 season, league officials announced Wednesday. The group is led by Knighthead Capital Management, LLC. 

Four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters, Wall Street’s Callie Simpkins, financial adviser Kaitlyn Kerr and Matt Alvarez make up the rest of the group. Kerr will take on the general manager role.

Tom Brady returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their quarterback after retiring.

Tom Brady returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their quarterback after retiring.
(Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Of course, I’m excited at the investment opportunity,” Clijsters said in a statement. “But what excites me the most about becoming an MLP owner is that I get to help shape the future of pickleball, a sport I have come to love, with great people — who also happen to be some of my best friends.”

Pickleball has become known for being the fastest-growing sport in America.

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Major League Pickleball announced in late September that an investment group led by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, his business partner, purchased the rights to a professional pickleball team. 

Golden State Warriors player Draymond Green and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love are also a part of the investment group.

A pickleball on a court next to the net at the newly opened West Reading Pickleball Courts in West Reading, Pa., June 25, 2021. 

A pickleball on a court next to the net at the newly opened West Reading Pickleball Courts in West Reading, Pa., June 25, 2021. 
(Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

“Having SC Holdings, LRMR Ventures and their incredible group as owners and investors in Major League Pickleball is not just great for MLP. It’s a watershed moment for pickleball in general,” MLP founder Steven Kuhn said in a statement after the announcement of the James and Carter-led ownership group.

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Over the summer, the Mad Drops Pickleball Club announced former Saints quarterback Drew Brees joined the team’s ownership group.

Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith in action, hitting a pickleball during the Red Rock Open women's doubles championship at Little Valley Sports Complex in St. George, Utah, April 10, 2022.

Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith in action, hitting a pickleball during the Red Rock Open women’s doubles championship at Little Valley Sports Complex in St. George, Utah, April 10, 2022.
(Nils Nilsen/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

Major League Pickleball was founded in 2021 and quickly expanded to 12 teams in 2022. This season’s finale will see 48 players compete over three days for a record single-event prize purse.

Next year, MLP will add another 4 teams, expanding the league to 16 teams.

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