How an NFL Linebacker Became a Millionaire by Selling Pokémon Cards

Blake Martinez retired from the NFL at age 28 after playing a solid game for the Raiders. Injuries prevented Martinez from making a successful career with the Giants, but at that moment he was healthy and Blake’s knee did not bother him – he simply did not want to play football anymore, preferring to do business in the trading card reselling business.

Pokémon is the world’s most profitable media franchise and has a huge fan base. It includes video games, cartoons, and trading cards that have been distributed worldwide since 1998. Some cards, preserved in good quality, can cost hundreds or even tens of thousands of dollars. Single copies of rarities can be sold at special auctions for half a million dollars.

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Pandemic and pokemon videos

When Blake Martinez realized the value of these cards, he immediately remembered that he had a whole box of collectible cards in the attic in his parents’ house, which could be worth a lot of money. But after calling his mother, he found out that this box was given to some kid, who probably already became a very rich man.

Blake hated American football at first, but then began to get better when he dropped 60 pounds and realized that this game requires not only power and strength, but also brains. He watched a lot of matches, studied tactics, and then he created a cut of his own moments in the school team and sent it to universities. Two weeks later, he had offers from Oregon and Stanford on hand.

Martinez chose Stanford, but did not plan to go to the NFL until a crowd of agents surrounded him, assuring that the guy had everything for a professional career. Martinez was selected in the 2016 draft by the Green Bay Packers and experienced all the “charms” of a career as a professional football player – once he had his nose stitched right during the game, which he continued in a bloody jersey.

In 2020, he signed a multi-million dollar contract with the Giants, and at the time of the pandemic, he was just addicted to videos with Pokemon. That’s when he called his mom with a question about the cards he bought at school for 99 cents. Frustrated, Blake nevertheless decided to try his hand at a new field, taking part in a number of auctions and buying several boxes of cards.

First bad experience

At first, everything Blake did on the collectible card market was rather at a loss to him – several times he fell for scammers or bought cards that could not be sold at a higher price.

The first successes came when Martinez had already studied the market in detail and filled a lot of cones. He was also helped by entering the Whatnot platform, where there were already several other NFL players. On this platform, you can organize auctions with various collectibles – cards, comics, sneakers, etc.

Having gained access to a wide audience and using all the knowledge gained in the process of studying the Pokémon market, Martinez decided to create a stream where he held auctions with the sale of cards in the “dark” circulated on the network. During the auction, a box with 36 cards is sold, among which there are several very valuable ones, and the presenter who sells such a lot tries to put on a show, warming up the interest of the public.

First successes in a new business

Already the first stream of Martinez on Whatnot brought him 108 thousand dollars and the football player realized that for him this activity could be what he would do at the end of his career. But when Blake approached developing a career as a streamer professionally, it turned out that he could end his career at 28 to start developing a business. He now has a handful of other streamers and card collectors on his team, and recently surpassed the $11.5 million mark in auction revenue in less than a year.

Martinez made his most lucrative deal with an anonymous collector in Japan, when he sold him a series of cards worth several hundred thousand dollars, after submitting them for quality assessment. Martínez ended up spending several sleepless nights worrying about being scammed, and one morning he received several duffel bags full of cash in a FedEx package that had been left on his doorstep. The deal was successful and the prestige of Martinez’s company among collectors has grown incredibly.

Blake Martinez’s slogan “If someone can do it well, I probably can do it better” led him to success in a completely unexpected field of activity for a professional American football player, but building a business and building a team of like-minded people turned out to be more interesting for him at this stage of life than playing in the NFL.

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