An ownership group led by quarterback and entrepreneur Tom Brady, five-time NFL Super Bowl MVP, and former world No. 1 tennis player Kim Clijsters has purchased an expansion team for the 2023 season from Major League Pickleball (MLP). The group, led by Knighthead Capital Management, LLC, includes Knighthead co-founder Tom Wagner, acclaimed producer Matt Alvarez, Wall Street bond saleswoman Callie Simpkins and financial adviser Kaitlyn Kerr, who will serve as director. general.
“Tom Brady, Kim Clijsters and Knighthead Capital Management are champions in their fields and will now be Major League Pickleball champions,” said MLP founder Steve Kuhn. “What really stands out about working with these incredible people is their passion for the sport. We are delighted to welcome them to our unparalleled list of strategic partners, who individually and collectively contribute to helping us elevate professional pickleball, to to show the joy it brings to millions around the world and to further our ’40 by 30′ campaign – our mission to reach 40 million pickleball players by 2030.”
The expansion team is part of a three-pronged growth plan for 2023, which will see 12 teams expand to 16, three events double to six, and prize money and player payouts top $2 million. MLP is the flag carrier for pickleball in the United States, providing its players with the highest quality and most exciting experience in the sport, as well as the biggest cash prizes per event.
“Of course I’m excited about this investment opportunity,” said Clijsters, a six-time Grand Slam tennis champion who regularly plays pickleball with Simpkins and Kerr. “But what excites me most about becoming an MLP owner is that I can help shape the future of pickleball, a sport I love, with great people – who also happen to be certain of my best friends. I am excited to help showcase professional pickleball and impact the sport through my experience gained at the highest levels of professional tennis.
Thanks to investment from Clijsters, Simpkins and Kerr, the new team will also be 50% female-owned, a testament to the league’s core mission of gender equality. The MLP is one of, if not the only, professional sports league where men and women compete on equal footing. Mixed teams play two rounds of mixed doubles, in addition to men’s and women’s doubles, and could even pit men and women in singles against each other in a Dreambreaker™, a unique tiebreaker only found ‘in MLP.
The ownership group adds even more credibility to MLP’s already stacked list of top owners and strategic partners, who offer unparalleled expertise in marketing, media, entertainment, branding, etc
Other team owners and partners include NBA icons LeBron James, Draymond Green and Kevin Love, Super Bowl champion Drew Brees, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee), famed lecturer and research professor Brené Brown, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, former world No. 4 tennis player James Blake, health executive Molly Joseph and Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York and Serhant founder and CEO Ryan Serhant.
The 2022 MLP Season Finals will see 48 players descend on Columbus, Ohio from October 14-16 to compete for the largest single-event prize purse ($319,000) in pickleball history, with the winning team taking home $100,000. Fans can catch the event live at Pickle & Chill in Columbus or catch all the action on YouTube worldwide, MSG Networks in NY, NJ, CT and PA (group play, quarter-finals and semi-finals). finals – Friday-Sunday) and CBS Sports Network (finals – Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET).
About Major League Pickleball
Major League Pickleball (MLP) is the premier professional team league of its kind and the sport’s fastest growing flagship in the United States. Led by Founder and CEO Steve Kuhn, MLP is committed to perpetuating the sport’s broader role in society and permeating all facets of pickleball business, marketing and community relations. With iconic team owners, a mixed team format, an innovative draft, easy-to-understand scoring, groundbreaking broadcast quality, and the most prestigious events in professional pickleball, MLP’s goal is to elevate and to develop the sport in all that it does. For more information on Major League Pickleball, visit MajorLeaguePickleball.net and follow Major League Pickleball on Facebook, Twitter, instagram, ICT Tac, pinterest and Youtube.
Founded in 2008, Knighthead is a diversified credit platform specializing in credit analysis, sourcing, negotiation and restructuring. Knighthead has worked to create a stable capital base to support the business and manages approximately $9 billion in assets across a variety of investment vehicles, including an evergreen long/short vehicle, multiple fixed capital credit, a dedicated home loan activity and an insurance asset management activity. Knighthead has offices in New York, Greenwich CT and West Palm Beach, FL.