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Mia Hamm rookie card sells for $34,440, a record for a female athlete card

A PSA 10 Mia Hamm 1992 S.I. for Kids rookie card sold for $34,440 with Goldin Auctions over the weekend, nearly doubling the previous record for most expensive female sports card of all time.

The previous record belonged to an Alex Morgan 1-of-1 from the Immaculate Collection Soccer line that reportedly sold for $16,000, according to eBay. And a PSA 10 of Serena Williams' 2003 Netpro Tennis rookie raked in $14,000 a few months back.

While the past year and a half has seen stratospheric interest in the sports card industry and record-decimating sales for male players of past and present, the numbers haven't translated quite so frequently to cards featuring female athletes -- until now.

Starting in June 1989, S.I. for Kids offered tear-away card sheets of contemporary star athletes. Due to their tear-out nature, intact sheets are hard to come by and high-grade singles are even more so. Of the nine-card 1992 sheet, which also included Bobby Bonilla and Richard Petty, Hamm's rookie card is doubtlessly the most desirable.

Meaning a PSA 10, the only known PSA 10 S.I. for Kids Hamm rookie card in existence, is the perfect storm.

"It validates that there's a legitimate market for women's sports," Goldin Auctions founder Ken Goldin told ESPN on Monday. "Four years ago, soccer was not considered by most [trading card] people in the United States -- myself included -- to be part of their collecting universe, but two of the five highest-priced items in this auction were soccer related [and] then you have Mia Hamm up there, too."

The two other cards, notably, were a 2019-20 Topps Chrome Bundesliga Erling Haaland 1-of-1 Superfractor autographed rookie card (a Beckett Grading Services 9.5 with a 10 autograph grade), which went for $442,800 -- the most expensive soccer card ever -- and a 2004 Panini Sports "Mega Cracks" PSA 10 Lionel Messi rookie card, one of 20 at PSA's highest grade in existence, for $344,400.

Goldin, speaking to ESPN's Tom Hamilton in March, said soccer was the biggest growth category across his auction house.

The U.S. women's national soccer team, on which Hamm starred from 1987 to 2004, is considered a heavy favorite to win an unprecedented fifth gold medal in Tokyo when the Olympics commence on July 21. Hamm played on two of those gold-medal-winning teams, in 1996 and 2004.

"[Mia] is the right era for this record," Goldin said Monday. "Part of that '96 team, I remember where I was 25 years ago when they won the gold. People my age who have money are looking for cards like this. Mia was [a] name everybody recognized or was starting to."

Despite soccer's burgeoning ballyhoo in collecting, Hamm is also a natural inclusion to sport's all-time best, across genders and eras.

"I think there's a GOAT syndrome," Goldin said. "There are people who want to collect the best of the best, who have collections of Ali, Pele, Gretzky, Jordan, Brady that are looking to add. Without revealing any information, the buyer of this Hamm card is someone with a world-class trading card collection that includes all of the names I just mentioned."

The buyer, who works in finance, was identified to ESPN on the condition of anonymity.

For some, this isn't just more card news amid a two-year industry gold rush.

"History is made ... again," Olga Harvey, chief strategy and impact officer at the Women's Sports Foundation, said in a statement to ESPN. "[The] fan base is there and growing. [With] Tokyo just around the corner, and the 50th anniversary of Title IX on the horizon, it's abundantly clear that the demand for women's sports continues to rise.

"This is another milestone indicative of the power and popularity of female athletes and women's sports."