3 Surprising Facts About Ben Johns, Pickleball's Top Men's Player

Ben Johns reaches for a return during a pickleball match

You may not be surprised to learn that the top men's pickleball player, Ben Johns, is a multimillionaire. Ben recently revealed his 2024 salary is over $2 million, and that's not including endorsements.

While the audience for pro pickleball is significantly smaller than the total number of recreational pickleball players, being the best at anything is bound to get you noticed (and paid).

But there's so much more to a person than what they make in a year, and in Ben's case, there's quite a lot more.

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Ben called himself "equal parts jock and nerd."

While we all know that pickleball and its athletes do not always align with sports stereotypes, we couldn't help but be surprised at some of the revelations about Ben from his interview.

Here are some of the most interesting facts about Ben Johns:

He's a Magic: The Gathering Fan

Not familiar with Magic: The Gathering? We're not surprised.

It's rare for the worlds of fantasy/trading/strategy card games and professional sports to have a through-line.

MTG requires players to build decks, manage resources, and anticipate opponents' moves; pickleball involves strategic shot placement, positioning, and anticipating opponents' actions. I guess it tracks.

Still, all I'm going to think about now whenever I see Ben win a point is, "board wipe!"

He Had to Be Bribed with Powdered Doughnuts to be Collin's Hitting Partner

Way back when Ben's brother and doubles partner Collin was a 14-year-old aspiring tennis player, he had to bribe Ben to hit around with him.

Ben was 8 at the time, and apparently, powdered doughnuts provided ample motivation.

Ben would also go on to become a reputable tennis player and baseball pitcher before getting serious about pickleball in 2016.

He's Only Going to Play Five More Years...

...At least, if he doesn't change his mind. The 25-year-old told WaPo that he doesn't plan to play competitively past 30.

Ben isn't interested in churning out victories for decades. He says athletes like Michael Jordan or Tom Brady dedicate their entire lives to their sports, but he hasn't even been in pickleball for a decade.

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"So when your whole life has not revolved around the sport, it’s hard to call it your legacy, right?" he tells the Washington Post.

Who knows, maybe we'll catch a 31-year-old Ben cleaning up at competitive Magic tournaments. Perish the thought.

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