There's this massive explosion and it'sjust really taken off. First time I hit the ball, I was, like,in love with the sport. And I think once people play it, theybecome addicted to the point where they don't ever want to play anything else. Pickleball is a paddle sport. Combines elements of badminton, tabletennis and tennis. It's similar to tennis where you'retrying to get your opponents to make an error either by hitting into the net,out or letting the ball bounce twice. And you're trying to score points.

So first team to 11 wins the game. The dimensions are exactly the same as abadminton court. So it's 20 feet wide by 44 feet long. Pickleball was started in sort of 1965by the Prichard family in Bainbridge Island, Washington. And in Washington, they had these boatraces where they would have the A Boat, which is the stronger rowers. And then the B Boat, which was a kind ofrandom people thrown into the boat together.

And they would call that the pickleboat. They were looking for a game for theirkids to play. They had ping pong paddles andwiffleball. They're trying to play badminton, theydidn't have enough stuff. And so they set it up and startedplaying and the game kind of took off from there. When I discovered pickleball, it was themiddle of the first summer pandemic. And I think they were the idealconditions for the sport of pickleball to kind of really thrive.

It was a game that families could gooutside. You can easily set up a net in yourdriveway. Once people started playing, it reallykind of took off. Pickleball has a very low barrier toentry. You can learn the game in 10, 15minutes. So relative to other sports where thelearning curve can feel quite steep before you can actually properly play agame. Pickleball, you can really just jumpright in from the get-go. It's a low price point from anaccessibility perspective.

When you play it, you can play it at avery active manner. You can play it very casually. From when I first started playing, Iplayed with my grandfather and my mom. And I can still play with my grandfatherand my mom. So I think the sport's really cool thatyou can just play with all ages throughout your family. So I just think it's a sport foreveryone and that everyone can do together. And so there's a really fun, joyouselement to it as well.

As of today, we've got about 5 millionactive players growing it 30%, 40% a year. We expect it to be close to 40 millionplayers in the next 10 years. If that happens, it would be the largestparticipating sport in the U.S. by the order of magnitude to 2x. My friends when I first started playingpickleball had absolutely no idea. But then once it kind of exploded,they're like seeing me on TV and stuff. And they're like, “Oh my gosh, this is,like, a real thing.” And we'd have to explain it to them.

I would say in the beginning of mypickleball career when we would go and And now when we go, they're like, “Oh mygosh, I love pickleball. I play it all the time.” Or, “I just started playing pickleball.” travel somewhere and we would tellsomeone why we're in town, they would be like, “What's pickleball?” I feel like everyone knows what it is. When you look at sort of the amateurgrassroots game and you have 5 million players going to 40 million.

That would be more than tennis or golf. So you have a mass population of playersplaying. When people are playing games, they'regoing to obviously buy equipment. They're going to buy merch. They're going to join clubs. They're going to watch professionalleagues. So when you think about that hugecommunity, there's a tremendous investment opportunity. There are a number of celebrities andathletes that have a real passion for.

The game. And as a result of that passion, asignificant amount of them had been investing in MLP and in other venturesin pickleball. The Kardashians started playing it. Vanderpump Rules, it was featured onthere. So major athletes like LeBron James andDraymond and Kevin Love and Tom Brady and Kim Clijsters started purchasingMajor League Pickleball teams. Eva Longoria, Mesut Özil, Heidi Klum. I've met Jamie Foxx, Michael Phelps,Larry Fitzgerald.

Like, I've played pickleball with all ofthem. There's, like, so, so many celebritiesthat are getting into pickleball or that have pickleball courts at their house. Or investing to pickleball. There's just a lot of engagement becausepeople fundamentally are looking to things to invest where they have apassion. And I think a lot of these folks comefrom a passion of playing. And then they recognize the sort ofgrowth in the game. And that's the reason they've come intoinvest.

Community is such a key aspect topickleball. Once you get into it, once you startplaying, it's very easy to have this passion for it and want to play it everyday. So when you find others who share thispassion, you instantly have this connection. It's one of these games where if you'venever played it before, you can show up to a court and people will alwaysembrace you. They're really interested in teachingother people how to play it. Within a couple of games, you'll knowall the rules and you're never going to.

Leave that community. It's really fanatical in that way, whichis really wonderful. I really look forward to it growing to apoint where 40 million people are playing it in the U.S. and that numbermore than doubles globally. I think if we can do that, it unitespeople. It brings people into a community. It brings a lot of things that we sortof need in the world. In the country. And so I'm pretty excited about allthose things.

Pickleball has burst into the mainstream due to its low barrier to entry and variety of health benefits—including the opportunity to socialize and build community—and investors big and small have picked up on the trend.

Subscribe to Fortune –
http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=FortuneMagazineVideo />
FORTUNE is a global leader in business journalism with a worldwide circulation of more than 1 million and a readership of nearly 5 million, with major franchises including the FORTUNE 500 and the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For. FORTUNE Live Media extends the brand’s mission into live settings, hosting a wide range of annual conferences, including the FORTUNE Global Forum.

Website: http://fortune.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FortuneMagazine
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FortuneMagazine