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Collectibles on the Campaign Trail: Donald Trump's Sneakers Make Waves

Collectibles on the Campaign Trail: Donald Trump's Sneakers Make Waves
February 29, 2024
Dylan Dittrich


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Trading cards, NFTs, and sneakers have all cooled over the last year, but those markets still burn hot for one subject. Former President Donald Trump.

Don't worry or stop reading, Altan's not going to get all political. "Stick to collectibles, nerds!" Fear not, that's exactly what we'll do. However, it seems the former president is sticking with collectibles, buoyed by successful sales.

Trump's attendance at Philadelphia's SneakerCon was well publicized this weekend. Fittingly, the Trump team marked the occasion with a limited-edition sneaker drop, introducing the Never Surrender High-Top Sneaker. The gold shoes, detailed with the red, white, and blue of the American flag and emblazoned with a large "T," were sold for $399 and limited to pre-orders for just 1,000 pairs. At the event, a bidder paid $9,000 for an autographed pair, while the website inventory sold out quickly, generating $399,000 in revenue and far more value in earned media.

The site disclaimer read: "Trump Sneakers & Fragrances are intended for individual enjoyment and as a collectible and not for investment purposes." The early returns from eBay suggest that some sellers disregarded that disclaimer.

At the time of writing, eBay data reflects 75 sales of the Never Surrender High-Top, with all but three of those sales eclipsing $1,000. The high watermark is $6,999, and 14 sales have cleared $5,000. Now, a 1,000-pair release qualifies as extremely limited, but acknowledging that, nobody is putting up those kinds of high-flying prices in new sneaker releases right now. Not Travis Scott, certainly not Ye, and not even Michael Jordan, who once famously said "Republicans buy sneakers, too."

Bear in mind: these eBay sales are for pre-orders, not yet for ready-to-ship products. The buzz could fade, but the initial response remains staggering.

It's the first sneaker release from a former president, though it's not the first piece of presidential sneaker memorabilia. In February of 2021, Sotheby's was set to sell a pair of Barack Obama Player Exclusive Nike Hyperdunks for a Buy-It-Now price of $25,000. The sneaker features the Presidential Seal on the tongue and "44" embroidered on the side. It was one of only two pairs produced, with the other believed to be in former President Obama's possession. Ultimately, the consignor withdrew the sneakers before they could sell, though it was clear that the decision was not made for lack of demand.

Given the secondary market action in the Trump sneakers, one could make the argument they were underpriced at $399, already a lofty retail price for a sneaker. The quick sell-through is not a surprise given the strength of other Trump collectible sales. For instance, even amid a tanking market for NFTs, digital Trump trading cards have enjoyed a hospitable audience.

The first two series, depicting the former president in various patriotic scenes, both sold out in less than a day, generating $4.4 and $4.6 million in revenue respectively. Trump licensed his image to a company called CIC Digital LLC for the NFT products and is believed to receive royalties on the sales.

While the floor price of Series 2 is vastly lower than Series 1's, both editions have proven resilient on the secondary market. Since its December 2022 release, after some early choppiness, Series 1 has mostly seen floor price growth. Today, the floor price sits at $725, well above October troughs below $150. If you were to value all 45,000 cards at the floor price, then the series has a total market cap of $32.6 million.

The third series, otherwise known as The Mugshot Edition, has crossed more overtly into the worlds of sports cards and memorabilia, playing to the popularity of memorabilia swatches and a suddenly significant moment in American history. Customers who purchase 47 or more Mugshot Edition NFT cards will receive a physical card (limited to 2,024) featuring a swatch of the suit worn by Trump in his infamous mugshot photo.

At $99 a pop, a purchase of 47 cards equates to a total spend of $4,653. That's a lot of money, and those unfamiliar with the world of trading cards will find it outrageous, as will some who are familiar. But it isn't egregiously out of line with what some Flawless or National Treasures patch cards fetch at auction for players who aren't even among the sport's elite.  Of course, to many inside and outside the Hobby, those prices remain egregious.

A 100 NFT purchase would be rewarded with an autographed card (limited to 225) containing swatches from both the infamous suit and the accompanying necktie. That purchase amounts to $9,000.The suit came directly from Trump, and MEARS - well-known in the sports memorabilia space - authenticated it. Onlookers will no doubt be dubious, but the third-party authentication offers more credibility than some patch cards in sports, particularly those whose disclaimers on the back make effectively no assurances as to when or if a player came into contact with the associated garment. So far, OpenSea reflects more than 50,000 items in circulation from the Mugshot Edition, suggesting that some customers have pursued the offer.

The physical Trump cards have yet to reach secondary markets. In the interim, we wonder how many customers are uninterested in the speculative aspect and wish to retain the card purely from a collector's perspective for the long term. And how does that impact supply and prices?

In any case, the repeated collectible market success of Trump-related offerings is further evidence of the buying power of large, loyal, and passionate fanbases. With the attention of such a fanbase captured, the type of collectible actually matters little (the early success of the NFT trading cards is proof) so long as it tells a story that authentically resonates with the audience it seeks to serve.  

Will Biden counter with some kicks of his own? Or is a Stanley Tumbler collaboration the more contemporary move? Either way, it seems the old, reliable campaign buttons and bumper stickers have been left in the rear-view. Despite the much-discussed age of the candidates, these aren't your grandfather's campaign keepsakes.

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Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

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