Bill Gates plays pickleball 50 years longer than the rest of us

Pickleball is all over the news now. In February, it was named the fastest growing sport of the year for the second year in a row. Described as a mix of tennis, badminton and ping pong, the game is played with rackets, nets and a ball. But that’s nothing new for billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who explained in a video posted Tuesday that he’s been a “pickler” for 50 years.

“Despite its silly terms and funny name, pickleball is actually quite a sophisticated game,” Gates said. “It’s easy to learn. People say that about a lot of sports, but in the case of pickleball, it’s true.”

Gates isn’t kidding about the “silly terms.” Pickleball phrases include “dink” (a gentle hit on a jump), “kitchen” (part of the court), and “skinny bachelors” (a two-person drill).

In the video, he shares old photos of younger versions of himself playing the game.

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington – not far from Gates’ hometown of Seattle. His father, Bill Sr., was friends with the game’s three inventors: Bill Bell, Barney McCallum and Joel Pritchard, Gates said. Pritchard later became lieutenant governor of Washington. According to USA Pickleball, the game was invented one day when families could only find part of a badminton set, improvised with ping pong rackets and a perforated ball.

“It was completely located in Seattle,” Gates said. “So it’s amazing that 50 years after it was invented, it starts to take off and now it has an incredible momentum.”

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