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Major League Pickleball Announces New Owners, League Format

  • Former ATP player Sam Querrey was first overall draft selection.
  • Celebrities Eva Longoria, Michael Phelps, Kate Upton among team owners.
Former ATP tennis player Sam Querrey returns shot
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The list of celebrity pickleball team owners keeps getting longer — and is becoming increasingly diverse across entertainment industries.

On Monday, Major League Pickleball held its Challenger Level draft, where owners selected the players for their teams.

With the first pick in the draft, the D.C. Pickleball Team —whose newly announced owners include actress Eva Longoria, soccer player Mesut Özil, model Kate Upton, and baseball player Justin Verlander — selected Sam Querrey, a former ATP tennis player making his debut in pro pickleball.

Other new team owners are similarly spread across the entertainment world.

  • NBA players Devin Booker and Jeremy Lin
  • Former NFL player Larry Fitzgerald
  • Tennis legend Chris Evert
  • Fashion model Heidi Klum
  • Country music star Dierks Bentley

American swimming legend Michael Phelps was also recently added as an owner, per Bloomberg.

“The diversity in the backgrounds and expertise of our fantastic new owners is an incredible asset as we aggressively expand Major League Pickleball to reach more fans than ever,” said MLP Interim CEO Brian Levine. “We always say pickleball brings people together, and this roster of leaders from across a wide variety of industries is a strong testament to that philosophy.”

For the first MLP season, all 12 Challenger Level teams will play each other in the first half of the season before switching to the Premier Level for the second half, and vice versa.

After the results of the 2023 season are finalized, the Premier and Challenger Level will be locked in for the 2024 season — where they will be subject to a promotion and relegation system going forward.

Following the expansion to 24 teams, MLP is offering up to $5 million in prize money and payouts for the 2023 season.

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