Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America, and even celebs aren’t immune to the hype. LeBron James, Tom Brady, and the Kardashians are all documented fans (or straight-up investors), and you can also count Maria Menounos and Olivia Culpo among A-list players of the game.
“I love pickleball . . . it’s something that I’ve been doing for a while with my family,” Culpo tells POPSUGAR. Menounos is actually the one who got them to try the sport. “Maria Menounos was the first person who introduced me to it, and then my sister became obsessed with playing it in my family.” Sure enough, Culpo’s sister Aurora shared an Instagram photo of the family after a lesson with “pickleball coach to the stars” Matt Manasse in April 2022.
Culpo loves the game so much that she and fiancé Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers running back, had pickleball at their engagement party in July. “Everyone loved it,” she tells POPSUGAR. “So it’s definitely a staple in my life now.”
This past Friday, Culpo joined other celeb pickleball fans (including Taylor Lautner and “Bachelorette” alum Tyler Cameron) at the Pickleball Classic, hosted by Celsius, the drink brand, and YouTube star and influencer David Dobrik at his house in Sherman Oaks, CA. The winners — Dobrik and Lautner — received $50K to donate to the charity of their choice.
Culpo, a Celsius partner, was teamed up with Peloton instructor Rad Lopez. They didn’t win, but that’s not her MO. For her, playing pickleball is less competitive and more social.
“I love that it’s partner style. I love that you have a partner with you to support. Couples on couples can be really fun,” she says. And it’s also a game she can play against her pro-athlete fiancé without feeling totally disadvantaged — at least as far as stature is concerned. “I feel like you don’t have to be a big person to win . . . a lot of sports and activities, like generally the bigger you are, the stronger you are, the more of a shot you have to win with,” she says. “With pickleball, it’s just a different type of sport . . . I’m not very competitive in the sports world, so it’s just fun.”
— Additional reporting by Monica Sisavat Solís