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Gary Vaynerchuk Buys Into Expanding Professional Pickleball League with New Team and Logo

Gary Vaynerchuk Buys Into Expanding Professional Pickleball League with New Team and Logo article feature image
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Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images. Pictured: Pickleball

Pickleball, one of the fastest growing participatory sports in the United States, is getting a boost on the spectator side.

Influencer and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, who has become one of the most influential names in both physical and digital collectibles through his commentary on collecting cards and his VeeFriends NFTs, announced last week he was buying a team in the pro version of the sport, Major League Pickleball, which is expanding from eight teams this year to 12 next year.

Vaynerchuk filled in more details on Wednesday, as Action Network learned his team will be called The 5’s, unveiled their logo, and will be run by Ryan Harwood. Harwood is the CEO of Gallery Media Group, which controls media site, One37PM, and sold PureWow, a women’s lifestyle destination, to Vaynerchuk’s company.

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Harwood was a top-ranked junior tennis player and captain of the University of Pennsylvania tennis team two decades ago.

Pickleball now has 4.8 million players in the United States, a two-year growth rate of 39.3 percent, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA).

“Pickleball is by far the fastest growing segment of our business in terms of sales, variety of items and retail distribution,” said Adam Franklin, president of Franklin Sports, a leading equipment company. “We currently have pickleball products in over 35,000 retail doors including Dicks, Academy, Target, Walmart, BJ’s and Walgreens.”

The Major League Pickleball is making the bet that the participation rates will lead to viewership. Vaynerchuk buying in is an enormous boost to the league and the sport.

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