Major League Pickleball announced its newest group of celebrity investors on Thursday as the Brooklyn Aces ownership group now includes Drake and Michael B. Jordan. After a flurry of celebrity investors joined MLP as part of various ownership groups prior to 2023, there has not been a major announcement in this regard in quite some time.
Drake and Michael B. Jordan join the Brooklyn Aces, who are led by majority owner, Rich Kleiman. Drake is arguably the biggest celebrity that MLP has on board, likely trumping the notoriety of the easily forgotten superstar part-owners, LeBron James and Tom Brady.
While it probably isn’t a bad thing for pro pickleball to get more exposure any way it can, there has been some desensitization to the announcement of these celebrity owners in MLP. It was a time not that long ago that a Drake announcement would have blown the roof off the pickleball world. On Thursday, it felt like the reaction was muted in the pro pickleball world, even if the story was picked up by outlets such as People, the Hollywood Reporter, and Yahoo.
The reason for this muted reaction may be the result of pickleball fans seeing minimal to no involvement from the majority of the more well-known celebrities who are part of MLP. Although we have seen some of the athlete owners become fairly involved like Drew Brees, Larry Fitzgerald and James Blake. the biggest stars included in this MLP Avengers-esque roster of celebrities have done next to nothing, including Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Aces. At the time of this article being posted, neither Drake nor Michael B. Jordan had posted anything about the MLP investment on their Instagram or Twitter pages, not even an Instagram story.
The announcement on Thursday included a host of other names that are now a part of the Aces ownership group and we have seen with other teams that the ownership groups are larger than an NBA roster. Our educated guess is that the monetary investment from these bigger celebrities is likely little to none. If their stake in the value of an MLP franchise is a small piece, it means their incentive to help boost the stock of said franchise is also going to be small.
The thing is, these stars like Drake, LeBron and Tom Brady have the ability to single handily change the live viewing numbers with almost no effort. We are curious what desire these celebrities like Drake and Michael B. Jordan have to be involved with pro pickleball if they aren’t going to do anything to push the league and the sport forward.
Maybe Drake just wants another option for easy courtside seats? Even if Brooklyn is doing poorly, surely Drake would be happy to cheer for whichever MLP team is favored to win on that weekend. On the other hand, we might not need another Drake curse situation for pro pickleball.
A-list celebrities aside, the most disappointing new owner addition so far has to be Dude Perfect with the Frisco Pandas. They almost certainly have the ability move the viewership needle more than any group involved in MLP with their almost 60 million YouTube subscribers. However, they really haven’t done anything despite buying a majority stake in the team.
The doors that these celebrities open for MLP to bring in bigger sponsors could be crucial to the growth of the league. However, announcements are only going to go so far to attract attention. There still has to be a wait and see approach to all of this. Celebrity owners are not a bad thing but they have to be treated with much more cautious optimism, until at least one of them decides it is time to step up to the plate and really do something to effect change for the sport they are “invested” in.
Update: Michael B. Jordan did quote tweet a welcome message from Kevin Durant, who both tweeted and shared an Instagram story about the news.
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