In a surprising twist at this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago, the man usually orchestrating auctions, Ken Goldin, found himself thrust into the spotlight, autograph pen in hand. A revered veteran in the world of collectibles, Goldin experienced a surge in popularity as fans eagerly lined up to secure his signature, treating him like a sporting legend rather than an auction house impresario.
Signing the Sweet Spot
Speaking over the phone, Goldin recounted the surreal moment: “The first time someone handed me a baseball I said, ‘What do you want me to do?’ He says ‘I want you to sign it … on the sweet spot!’” Goldin chuckled. “Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio sign sweet spots, not Ken Goldin.”
Yet, sign he did. Throughout the event, Goldin graciously autographed baseballs, hats, programs, and even an iPhone case, embracing the newfound attention. This unexpected celebrity status can be attributed to his hit Netflix show, “King of Collectibles: The Goldin Touch,” which premiered in April and was recently renewed for another season. The show shadows Goldin and his team as they crisscross the country, convincing collectors to consign their treasures and unearthing hidden gems tucked away in dusty attics. A-list athletes like Mike Tyson and Peyton Manning make appearances, adding an extra layer of glamour to the world of memorabilia.
Goldin is Netflix Gold
While Netflix doesn’t divulge precise viewership statistics, insiders suggest that the first season pulled in an audience in the tens of millions. For context, the top-rated TV show last week garnered around 7.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. This meteoric rise prompts a question: are collectibles transcending their niche appeal, captivating even those who don’t traditionally partake in card and jersey hoarding?
Goldin himself believes so, noting, “I think it can be an entertainment business.” The thrill of discovering hidden treasures, a narrative successfully tapped into by shows like “Antiques Roadshow,” “Pawn Stars,” and “Storage Wars,” now converges in Goldin’s series. But can this success be duplicated in other formats? Goldin envisions an athlete-centered show, with each episode delving into their personal memorabilia troves. However, he concedes the challenge of broadening this appeal to a massive audience.
Celebrities in The Hobby
One intriguing development that has captivated audiences without celebrity involvement is the case break phenomenon—live-streamed openings of sealed card packages. These events, once promotional tools, gained momentum during the pandemic. Goldin even co-hosted a case break session with rapper Drake, generating 39,000 YouTube views and uncovering six Michael Jordan rookie cards valued at over $1 million.
“These case breaks offer entertainment value to those who can’t access high-end collectibles,” Goldin explained. But they’re not without their challenges. Notably, the perception of gambling could hinder their growth, as the element of chance and payment for participation mirrors gambling dynamics. Platforms like TikTok have even banned case breaks due to these concerns.
Yet, there’s a glimmer of opportunity. With a potential regulatory revamp, card breaks might evolve from passive viewing experiences to active betting opportunities. If the Oscars or car jiu-jitsu can draw wagers, why not card breaks? Still, Goldin acknowledges the careful line card companies must tread to ensure their products aren’t misconstrued as gambling.
As Ken Goldin remains the unexpected face of memorabilia collecting, the anticipation builds for his show’s second season, slated for early 2024. Will the autograph hounds in Chicago prove prophetic? Goldin remains modest but hopeful, sharing, “I hope that my signature is up there with LeBron and MJ. We’ll see what happens.” One thing’s for certain: in the ever-evolving world of collectibles, Ken Goldin’s star shines brighter than ever before.