The record for most expensive collectible sports ticket was set twice with Heritage Auctions early Sunday.
Concurrently, a ticket stub from Jackie Robinson's 1947 debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers and a full ticket from Michael Jordan's 1984 debut with the Chicago Bulls, both graded by PSA (Professional Sports Authenticators), sold for $480,000 and $468,000, respectively. Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio was the winning bidder for the Robinson stub.
The previous record for the most expensive collectible sports ticket was $264,000, a ticket stub from Jordan's NBA debut -- the same game, albeit a checked ticket -- is now the third-most-expensive collectible sports ticket ever.
Mike Cole, the director of admissions for operations at Quinnipiac University, was a freshman at Northwestern University in 1984. A lifelong Washington Bullets fan, his father surprised him with two tickets to an October Bulls-Bullets matchup.
"I was only a month or two into school," said Cole, who asked multiple classmates to attend. "I wasn't that surprised or disappointed no one could go with me."
Cole stowed the unused ticket away; it's now the only known full ticket from Jordan's debut, according to Heritage. Through decades, moves and downsizing, it went from box to box, a totem from a bygone time when his now-late father was looking out for him from afar.
"It was my first time seeing a Bulls game," Cole said, recalling his father, who was a D.C.-area lawyer. "Years after his death and he's still providing for me."
"He was 18, in a new city, and no one took him up on going to the game," said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage Auctions. "[In his pocket], it turns from an old memory [into] a lottery ticket."
Cole joked that he's "not going to get a Lamborghini," a day before his financial fortunes irrevocably changed.
"I've been frugal for 55 years," Cole said. "Our needs are met -- we're fortunate in that extent -- but we may get on some planes. I have family in Hawaii and Barcelona I've never visited."
While cards and memorabilia have exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in popularity of tickets and stubs from past sporting events.
"Tickets are riding a popularity wave like we've seen before with vintage photography, [especially with this] ticket stub from Jackie Robinson's breaking the color barrier," Ivy said.
He added: "Thousands of people go down to their basement and come across items. We've gotta answer all of them before something like this comes along."