The most valuable major league sports memorabilia
Ever wondered which major league active stars boast the most expensive sports memorabilia? We’ve ranked and revealed the most valuable NFL, NBA, and MLB collectibles.
From the NFL to MLB and the NBA, major league sports merchandise generates billions of dollars each year. Though, naturally, some collectibles are more valuable than others. But which players across America’s most popular major leagues boast the most expensive sports memorabilia? We decided to find out!
Conducting a study of the rookie cards and signed jerseys of the most prominent football, basketball, ice hockey and baseball stars, we’ve been able to rank and reveal those with the most valuable sports memorabilia.
- LeBron James
Taking top spot, with a remarkable index score of 3.187 out of 4, NBA icon and LA Lakers legend LeBron James officially has the most valuable memorabilia on the sports resale market, with the four-time championship winner having the most expensive rookie cards and signed jerseys of all athletes on our index.
In fact, the most expensive example of a LeBron James rookie card sold on eBay within the last 90 days is a whopping $39,007. That’s over twice the fee commanded of a Steph Curry card and more than the combined collective value of rookie Curry, Jokic, Durant, Tatum, Harden, and Antetokounmpo cards ($38,280).
James’ signed jerseys also sell for staggering amounts, with the costliest recent example coming in at $15,002 – more than the combined price of each other NBA player to make our list and five times the amount of a signed Brady ($3,001) or Mahomes jersey ($3,001).
Impressively, though not necessarily unexpectedly, LeBron James memorabilia also ranks among the most popular, with his rookie card recording 126,000 Google searches over the last 12 years, while his signed jersey has seen 12,720 in the same period.
- Tom Brady
Next up and ranking as the top-performing NFL star, we have recent-retiree and Patriots legend Tom Brady, with an index score of 2.375.
Holding several prestigious NFL records, the former football great is widely considered to be the best quarterback of all time, which makes his appearance near the top of our list relatively unsurprising.
Interestingly, though, despite ranking so highly, the seven-time Super Bowl champ’s rookie card ‘only’ sells for up to $8,602, less than NBA icons LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Nikola Jokic, perhaps making Tom Brady collectables some of the best sports memorabilia to invest in.
However, the figure is over twice the cost of an equivalent Patrick Mahomes ($2,996) or Aaron Rodgers card ($2,498), while Brady’s card also records more Google searches than any other major league athlete (169,000).
As far as a Tom Brady signed jersey goes, expect to fork out over $3,000, which is the same value as a Mahomes shirt – though, Brady’s is vastly more popular, with 27,600 Google searches in the last year compared to the Chiefs QB’s 12,230.
- Steph Curry
In third overall, we have Golden State Warriors legend Steph Curry (1.876). Generally considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time, the nine-time NBA All Star has played a pivotal part in the Warriors’ recent rise, helping the team to four championship titles since 2015.
Delving into the data, a Curry rookie card sells for as much as $18,604 - more than the combined cost of Jokic, Durant, Antetokounmpo, and Lillard cards - while the 59,900 annual Google searches places the point guard’s card among the top ten most popular (and the second most popular of any NBA player).
Interestingly, as far as signed jerseys go, a Steph Curry shirt goes for just $800, short of the $15,000 you can expect to spend on a LeBron jersey, making this another potential example of strong sports memorabilia to invest in. Meanwhile, a jersey signed by any of Nikola Jokic, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid are also worth more than a Curry equivalent.
Despite this, no other major league athlete records more yearly Google searches for signed shirts than Steph Curry (27,800), who ranks ahead of the likes of Tom Brady, LeBron James, and Patrick Mahomes.
Which Major League Stars also make the cut?
Looking further down our list, it’s interesting to see that six of the top ten stars are from the NFL, while 50% of the top 20 are football players. Of those, Patrick Mahomes related collectables are the second-most expensive, recording an index score of 1.306, ahead of Josh Allen (0.951), Joe Burrow (0.855), Aaron Rodgers (0.708), and Justin Jefferson (0.683).
Meanwhile, rounding out the top ten in-demand sports memorabilia, we have MLB rookie cards and signed jerseys belonging to Yankee star Aaron Judge and Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani.
Curiously, Judge’s rookie card generates more annual Google searches than LeBron James’, while Ohtani’s rookie card ($12,752) is worth more than Tom Brady’s.
Whether you’re a collector or investor, knowing the value and popularity of some of the world’s biggest sports stars’ items may help you determine a reasonable price when you buy your next piece of rare sports memorabilia! In the meantime, discover even more interesting insight from our team of experts over on Betway Insider, including the future cost of being an NFL fan.
This dataset ranks the key players in American sports, based on how expensive and popular their memorabilia is. To do this, four different factors were used:
- Rookie card: The most expensive rookie card of each player recently purchased on eBay (last 90 days).
- Rookie card search volume: The search volume for each player’s rookie card on Google (last 12 months).
- Signed Jersey: The most expensive signed jersey of each player recently purchased on eBay (last 90 days).
- Signed Jersey search volume: The search volume for each player’s signed jersey on Google (last 12 months).
Once the factors were collected, they were then normalized to provide each factor with a score between 0 and 1. The normalized values were then summed, to give each player a total score out of 4.
Data gathered is correct as of 06/20/2023. The most recent data possible was used in compiling this dataset. All currency is in Dollars and Google currency converter was used where prices were in pounds.
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