Winter Olympics arrival means it’s time to watch Topps cards heat up

Imagine a world where New York Yankees star Aaron Judge had just a single product where you could find his one Rookie Card and one rookie autograph — okay, okay, throw in some parallels of them and maybe a variation or two to make it a more realistic scenario.

What might those sell for? How tough would that wax become over time? It’s something to ponder.

That hypothetical is much, much closer to reality for Olympic athletes and the heavy focus on the few cards they do have gets amplified a million times over during the Olympic Games, no matter whether they are of the summer or winter variety. While we’re still on the cusp of this year’s Winter Olympics, some of the notable first-time autographs already are selling very well — but there’s clearly room for more as they become true household names. One of those likely names belongs to 17-year-old snowboarder Chloe Kim, who’ll appear on the cover of ESPN The Magazine‘s Olympics Issue dropping on Friday when the Winter Games open in South Korea.

The Kim 2018 Topps U.S. Winter Olympic Team & Hopefuls Gold autograph (/25) you see here already sold for $199, which seems low compared to the hype that already comes before she takes to the halfpipe and her dominating success in the Winter X Games. It’s also impressive considering it comes from a box guaranteeing ink that’s presently less than $75.

But it’s not alone.

While there are a number of autographs to chase already in the new 2018 Topps U.S. Winter Olympic Team & Hopefuls set, the previous Topps Olympic releases are also still the homes to some big-money cards you might not expect. This Maya Moore autograph? It sold for $999 recently on eBay and it came from a pack of the 2016 Topps Olympic release, one that’s still findable in blaster box form. (And, yes, they can have autographs Relics and more inside — just fewer packs.) Moore has a number of certified autographs from her WNBA days but there’s clearly demand in other cards — and she’s not alone in being inside those super-cheap boxes.

Even the most-established Olympians on cardboard continue to sell well because, again, they just don’t have a lot of options for their fans to chase when it comes to certified autographs on cards. The first Olympics set of Topps’ recent run was released in 2012 and at that time Michael Phelps had established himself as one of the most-successful swimmers ever. The card you see here? It recently sold for $705 on eBay — and there’s a decent chance other autos just like it are waiting in wax that’s unopened right now. (Yes, even 2012 blasters are still available, though once they’re gone they’re gone.) He’s got more than 70 different autos yet they can still sell like that one. (Yes, part of that is probably the grade and slab, but there’s still a lot of interest.)

Back to this newest Olympian crop, other cards of Kim have sold for more — $250 the high for now among completed eBay auctions — though asking prices are much higher right now on those posted. The Lindsey Vonn Milestones set in this new release offers a number of new cards for the successful skier with ink and parallels (with asking prices far higher than $250), while figure-skaters Meryl Davis, Ashley Wagner, Karen Chen and Gracie Gold also have top-dollar prices among active auctions.

The set also includes a number of past stars whose markets might be more-established (some with past ink), too, names such as Michelle Kwan, Kristi Yamaguchi, Johnny Weir and Bode Miller. And there are also other Olympic possibilities beyond this year’s set as some stars were in the last release but aren’t in this one.

But the newest crop of stars who might move the most with Olympic gold? Those are still to come once the action heats up beginning this weekend and the non-stop TV coverage kicks in beginning on Friday.

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