NFL Player Retires After Selling Super Rare Pokemon Card

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Blake Martinez, a former NFL linebacker, has retired after selling a Pokemon Illustrator card for $672,000.

By Jason Collins
| Published

We previously reported on gaming memorabilia becoming an investment vehicle for those unable to afford a Ferrari, but it would seem that Blake Martinez, an NFL player, is using his Pokemon cards as a retirement fund. Namely, he just sold a rare, 9.5 Gem Mint Pokemon Illustrator card for an eyewatering sum of over $670,000 — twice as much as the legendary Charizard card — after which he announced his retirement from NFL in an Instagram post on November 10.

According to Kotaku, less than two weeks before announcing his retirement mid-season, Blake Martinez sold an extremely rare and valuable Pokemon Illustrator card for the aforementioned sum. The card was branded as one of the rarest Pokemon cards in existence — a Holy Grail of Pokemon cards among collectors. In fact, memorabilia collectors and Pokemon card connoisseurs believe that less than 40 Japan-only holographic Illustrator cards exist, making Martinez’s card extremely valuable.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first big sale Blake Martinez had, and it’s not actually his first-time trading Pokemon cards. As per his own account, he started collecting Pokemon cards when he was six and had been collecting them for years. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, his love for card collecting was reignited. He often shares his pack openings on Instagram and shares his finds with his online following quite frequently. In the case of this super-rare card, he actually found the pack in his basement.   

Blake Martinez was still a member of the New York Giants when he acquired the rare Pokemon card. Unfortunately, he tore knee ligaments three games into the 2021 season and headed into training camp in the third year of a $30.7 million contract with the NFL team. However, only $19 million of that contract were guaranteed and considering his injury and the fact that the $19 million had already been paid out, the Giants cut him from the team. However, he was picked up by the Raiders for a one-year $1.12 million contract, and he found the super-rare card soon after that.

Blake Martinez ended up selling his Pokemon card for $672,000, which is a nice sum, but a bit light considering that the same card with a lower rating sold for $900,000 in February this year. Then again, the memorabilia market has been extremely volatile ever since the beginning of the pandemic, especially since celebrities like Logan Paul got involved — as it turns out, his $3.5 million collection was riddled with fake cards.

In fact, the market has been so volatile that stores started removing Pokemon cards from shelves to avoid riots instigated by interested customers. Rare cards, especially minted, sell for eyewatering sums online and at organized auctions, and Blake Martinez has decided to retire from NFL and start a business dealing with Pokemon cards. It’s questionable whether he’ll make the same amount of money, but considering the injury, the fact that cards are his passion, and the fact that they’re selling for record prices at times, it likely won’t matter much.

In fact, he can leverage the wealth he accrued while playing in the NFL to kick-start his business. Hey, even comic books are selling for record-breaking prices, and Blake Martinez might just be the guy to contact for a super-rare Pokemon edition.