The agreement grants Anheuser-Busch control over one of the league’s teams, with ownership over all decisions including its draft picks and sponsors, as well as a founding partnership with the wider US-based pickleball league.
Additionally, the partnership will allow the alcoholic beverage producer and its brands, including Budweiser, to tap into a growing population of recreational players through Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating (DUPR) events across the US.
Matt Davis, Anheuser-Busch’s head of US sports marketing and partnerships, said: “We have a proud and longstanding history as a sponsor across all of major sports, and we’re excited to partner with Major League Pickleball – a sport with incredible growth and fan participation.
“Anheuser-Busch knows that fans are always looking for ways to engage with the sports they love, and we’re thrilled to be getting in on the ground level to bring them closer to pickleball. We have already seen world-class individuals invest in teams and partnerships, and we share in their belief and excitement for the future success of this league and sport.”
MLP has recently attracted numerous high-profile team owners, including National Basketball Association (NBA) stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant, as well as Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry. National Football League (NFL) icon Tom Brady, Super Bowl winner Drew Brees and former world number one tennis player Kim Clijsters have also bought teams in the league.
With the MLP growing from 12 to 16 teams, its events footprint doubling to six, and increases in player prize money and payouts to more than US$2 million, the league has stated that 2023 is set to be its biggest year to date.
“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,” added MLP founder Steve Kuhn.
“They have a unique ability in understanding the needs of fans, bringing them closer to the sport and brands they love. I can’t wait to see how this partnership will elevate both the MLP and the sport of pickleball in the years to come.”