A US professional athlete sells 24-year-old Pokémon card for €656,900 – Ends NFL career abruptly at 28

A US professional athlete sells 24-year-old Pokémon card for €656,900 - Ends NFL career abruptly at 28

An NFL player, 28-year-old Blake Martinez, makes so much money trading rare Pokémon cards that he gave up his career as a professional athlete. He had earned millions of dollars there, but was no longer a salary millionaire after a serious injury.

What kind of ticket did the man sell? According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Martinez raised $672,000 at auction for a 1998 Pokémon card:

  • The card is called “Pokémon Illustrator” and shows a painting Pikachu: It is a special trainer card. This card is also known as “The Swirllustrator”.
  • It is said that there are only 4 of these cards that are known to exist. It is an extremely rare card, also known as the “Holy Grail”.
  • The card received a value of “9.5” – so it is extremely well preserved, almost perfect (via youtube).

It says the card fetched $560,000 at auction, plus there was a premium that made the $672,000 come about. According to Martinez himself, the card could have netted him as much as $1.5 million.

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Career end at 28 – in the middle of the season

This was the surprising announcement: About two weeks after Martinez sold the ticket for the big bucks, he announced his retirement from the NFL at just 28 years old. That’s relatively young for a linebacker in the NFL. He ends his career mid-season, which is unusual, usually professionals stop after one season.

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The reason he gave was that he wanted to focus on his family and “future passions”.

In the US it is believed that he is now making so much money with Pokémon cards that he no longer wants to stick his bones out in the NFL.

Formerly made $14 million a year, but after a serious injury “only” $311,000

How was his career? Martinez joined the NFL in 2016, played for the Green Bay Packers for 4 years, then went to New York for 3 years, where he earned a lot of money until he ended up in Las Vegas. He played well there, picking up 11 tackles as a linebacker in the last game before retiring.

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How much did he earn as an athlete? According to reports from a US site, Martinez earned really well during his time in New York:

  • In 2020 he is said to have collected $14 million,
  • in the years that followed, however, it steadily decreased. In 2022 there was still $2 million from New York
  • with the Las Vegas Raiders he is said to have earned “only” $311,000.

In 2021 he tore his anterior cruciate ligament.

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How did he get into Pokemon? As the US site Kotaku knows, Martinez has been collecting cards for years, but the 2020 pandemic ignited the hobby again: he opened packs of cards on his Instagram account. And at one of those pack openings, he encountered the extremely valuable card.

Martinez even opened his own business to deal cards.

You can also have bad luck with the cards:

Clueless Man Buys €3,000,000 Pokemon Cards Without Asking Experts – Gets Scammed