Why billionaires Bill and Melinda Gates like to play 'a crazy game called pickleball' for fun

Bill and Melinda Gates are busy: The husband and wife billionaire philanthropists are working to advance the U.S. education system, improve healthcare conditions around the globe, and empower women, all while raising three children.

But that doesn't mean they don't have fun.

"We like to watch movies, we go out to movies together, we kayak together, we play a crazy game called pickleball," Melinda Gates told CNBC Make It Tuesday.

Similar to badminton or tennis, but played with paddles and a light plastic ball, pickleball is a favorite of suburbanites, and according to Melinda, of the Gates family.

"We are huge pickleball fans," Gates says.

"In fact, one of the things that Bill was so excited to teach me when we first were dating was pickleball. His family took me out on the court and they taught me, it's easier to pick up than tennis. He's more of a tennis player, but I play pickleball with him."

Seth McConnell | Denver Post | Getty Images
Two men play pickleball. 

Making time for hobbies and work/life balance is a deliberate choice for the Gates family.

"When I was in my 20s and early 30s, my whole life was focused on work," Bill Gates, who made his fortune as co-founder of Microsoft, told Time in January. "These days, I'm better at balancing the work that I love to do with my foundation and taking time off to spend with family and friends."

In addition to tennis and pickleball, the Gates family enjoys playing the board game Settlers of Catan, and they play to win.

"Melinda, our kids, and I have spent many hours sitting around the table trading resources, building roads, and strategizing to be the first to reach 10 victory points," Gates said in Time.

As co-chairs of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the couple has no shortage of responsibility. But both also take time to relax and recharge.

Melinda Gates takes time to meditate each day, and says it helps her perform at her best.

"The first thing I do every morning is carve out a few minutes to meditate—and the last thing I do every night is try to get to bed early enough that I can meditate again the next morning," she posted on Facebook in 2016. "When I take the time to reflect and unwind, it makes me happier, more mindful, and more productive both at work and at home."

Bill Gates also makes sure to unwind. He tries to finish a book every week, reading each night before bed.

"I read an hour almost every night. It's part of falling asleep," he once told The Seattle Times.

And, he takes joy in the little things. In a Reddit Ask Me Anything in 2014, Gates revealed he enjoys cleaning up dirty dishes: "I do the dishes every night — other people volunteer, but I like the way I do it."

Don't miss: Here's what dinner with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates is like, according to their Omaha waitress

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