Autograph King Signs Newton, Ingram and Fairley
CNBC Sports Business Reporter
For 15 years, Gary Takahashi has made some of the most bold calls in the sports autograph world. From his office in Kaneohe, Hawaii, he determines whose John Hancock he can sell at a premium price and offers guaranteed cash, sometimes in the seven-figure range.
The players that Takahashi’s company, GT Sports Marketing, does deals with are usually the most marketable guys in the draft. So who did he sign to exclusive deals this year? Well, they all played their ball in Alabama.
Former Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, his defensive end teammate Nick Fairley and former Alabama running back and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.
While the autograph industry has definitely taken its hits over the last decade, Takahashi said several categories still sell: Super Bowl MVPs, Hall of Famers and Rookies.
Takahashi says he doesn’t try to project how good a player will be.
“I can’t worry about how good someone is going to be,” Takahashi said. “I put more of an emphasis on who they are now. People will buy autographs of athletes that they know. And I think the only guys that are known on a national level are Newton, Ingram and Fairley. No one has any clue who (potential number one pick and former Missouri quarterback) Blaine Gabbert is.”
Takahashi also said he has been blown away by the support of the players he signed in the state of Alabama, where they will sign autographs in various cities in the coming weeks.
Ingram will be appearing in Gadsden and Birmingham, Ala., this week for an autograph signing. His autograph on a fan provided photo or mini helmet is selling for $85. On a jersey or full size helmet, Ingram’s signature will cost a fan $125.
Fairley will be appearing in Huntsville and Birmingham, Ala., next week. His autograph on a fan provided photo or mini helmet is selling for $35. On a jersey or full size helmet, his signature can be had for $50.
Newton is, not surprisingly, the most expensive autograph. He’ll have a signing next Saturday in Birmingham. His autograph on a fan provided photo or mini helmet is selling for $125. Fans will pay $150 for his signature on a jersey or a full size helmet and $50 if they want a particular inscription. It’s still cheaper than Tim Tebow, whose signature has been sold at shows for $160.
Newton’s deal also provides for Takahashi to buy and sell Newton’s game-used NFL gear.
Takahashi said he’s not concerned that any Auburn fans will sour on Newton should any additional news on what he might have known about his father’s dealings come forward.
Said Takahashi: “In our business, we have to take risks with athletes based on performance and off-the-field issues. We think Cam has taken the right steps to get reputable and established representation and has great potential to be a superstar quarterback in the NFL.”
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