News-Antique.com - Feb 23,2010 - DALLAS – The face of U.S. speed skating on Saturday night became the face of America’s winningest Winter Olympian. Not coincidentally, Apolo Ohno’s autographed trading card is hot enough to melt the very Vancouver ice upon which he made history.
With a bronze medal in Saturday’s 1,000 meters, the 27-year-old Washington native ran his career Olympic medal total to seven to become the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian of all time.
And his 2004 Donruss World Series Fans of the Game autographed trading card, limited to just 300 copies, is selling for as much as 280 percent above its current value as a result.
The card carries a modest $40 price tag but has sold for more than $150 in recent days, a figure likely to be dwarfed as the international media attention grows following Saturday’s accomplishment and in advance of next week’s 5,000-meter relay.
More-plentiful unsigned versions of the card, valued at just $2, have been selling for more than twice that much since his second-place finish in the 1,500 meters on Valentine’s Day and Saturday’s third-place finish.
Ohno, competing in his third Olympics, burst onto the scene during the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City by winning gold in the 1,500 meters and silver in the 1,000 meters. The then-19-year-old became an overnight sensation and an American heartthrob.
His trading card followed two years later, included in a traditional baseball set as part of a continuing series honoring the favorite sports teams of selected celebrities.
The Seattle Mariners fan went on to win another gold medal (500 meters) and two bronze medals (1,000 meters, 5,000-meter relay) at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, setting the podium for a new career record in Vancouver.
The Olympics have provided this type of meteoric value ascension before – most recently with American swimmer Michael Phelps in the Beijing summer games two years ago. Phelps’ record feat of eight gold medals in a single Olympics sent his 2004 Leaf Rookies & Stars Fans of the Game autographed card on a staggering increase, from $60 to $800 in less than a week. That card has since settled in the $500 range.