Companies all-in on pickleball as sport’s popularity soars

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(Front Office Sports) – The pandemic has become a time to pick up new hobbies, and pickleball is reaping the benefits.

The paddle sport — which has nothing to do with pickles — saw around 4.2 million players in 2020, a 21% year-over-year increase according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

It’s the “fastest-growing sport in America” per the Economist, and Franklin Sports president Adam Franklin thinks it could be growing even faster than predicted, based on the company’s pickleball-related sales.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if by 2030 we saw 20 to 30 million active players,” Franklin told Bloomberg.

Commissioner of the Professional Pickleball Association Connor Pardo estimates the sport will become “as big or bigger than tennis.”

  • The PPA entered a deal with Fox Sports to broadcast pickleball events. 
  • The Tennis Channel, ESPN3, and CBS Sports Network also air games.
  • Last month, Hyundai became the PPA’s first car partnership.

Pickleball Earnings

The PPA hosted 16 tournaments this year, double the amount it hosted in 2019 — the tour’s first year. Prize money has grown to more than $2.5 million slated for next year, compared to the $500,000 up for grabs in 2019.

The total purse for the USA National Championship — which ends Tuesday — is $90,000. Ben Johns, the world’s best pickleball player, makes around $250,000 each year.

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