Anheuser-Busch has been synonymous with big-time sports for decades.
Whether it’s paying to be the Super Bowl’s largest advertiser or owning Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals (1953-1995), the brewer’s Budweiser and Bud Light brands are ubiquitous in the sports world.
Now A-B is investing in the country’s fastest-growing sport: pickleball. It announced Tuesday plans to buy a Major League Pickleball franchise, starting in the 2023 season.
The giant brewer is the first Fortune 500 company to purchase an MLP team and it joins a growing list of high-powered MLP owners.
- NBA superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant
- The NFL’s Tom Brady and former New Orleans Saints great Drew Brees
- Tennis legend Kim Clijsters
The agreement gives A-B control over one of MLP’s new expansion teams. The brewer will call the shots on everything from player drafts to team sponsors.
During the 2023 season, MLP will expand from 12 to 16 teams. The new league will double its number of events to six, and player prize money to more than $2 million.
“Anheuser-Busch is one of the most impactful professional sport sponsors in the US, to have them join as an ownership partner is an incredible opportunity for Major League Pickleball,” said Steve Kuhn, MLP’s founder and CEO.