Teams in Major League Pickleball are valued as high as $10 million, according to the league’s new CEO Julio DePietro.
DePietro, who bought a stake in the Florida Smash MLP team in 2022, was announced as the league’s new CEO on Wednesday. He told CNBC that MLP team valuations had seen 100-times growth, soaring to $10 million valuations after being acquired for as low as $100,000 since the league began play in 2021.
The value surge could result in profits for many athletes with ownership stakes in MLP teams. Team co-owners include NFL greats Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Larry Fitzgerald, Josh Allen, and Patrick Mahomes, NBA stars LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, and Devin Booker, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, the WNBA’s Jewell Loyd and Haley Jones, MLB pitcher Justin Verlander, and tennis stars Naomi Osaka and Nick Kyrgios.
MLP’s Premier Level Super Final on June 19 reportedly reached more than 975,000 viewers on ESPN2, and the league’s YouTube livestream channel had a viewership increase of 500% over last year. MLP events have aired on ESPN, YouTube, the Tennis Channel, and MSG Networks, but the league intends to have a single signature broadcaster next year.
“The good news is we are in advanced conversations with an A-plus-type broadcast partner who is interested in carrying our season live and all of our content for 2024,” DePietro, a former partner at Citadel Investment Group, told CNBC.
DePietro also said that Major League Pickleball is working with a production partner to create an original behind-the-scenes docuseries focused on individual professional players in MLP.
More than 36 million people played pickleball last year. Bruce Popko, a veteran NFL executive and former chief revenue officer of the Buffalo Bills, has also been hired as the new chief operating officer of Major League Pickleball.