The Good Word: Once in a Lifetime – Reaction to Pulling a Zion Williamson 1/1 Autograph

“What if….?”

That’s the question that we can’t help but ask ourselves when we’re looking at packs and boxes at our local card show, hobby shop, or even retail trading card aisle.

What if I find some 2018 Topps Update Baseball packs on clearance at Walmart, Big Lots or Party City and hit a gold Ronald Acuna Jr. RC?” (hint: you can find those packs at those locations still sometimes).

What if the case hit is still in those last two remaining boxes of Panini Certified Football on the shelf at my local card shop?

What if I travel all around Western Washington to 9 different Target stores across two weekends in search of 2019-20 Panini Prizm Draft Megaboxes hoping to pull a Zion Williamson autograph but end up pulling the Black 1/1 auto?”

I guess my “What if” days are long over, and my days of singing my sad song of bad luck when opening wax are especially gone. To be honest, the whole happenstance and dumb luck that led up to revealing this once-in-a-lifetime card out of a pack while on camera as I filmed my box rips is still a bit baffling when broken down into perspective:

  1. Two weeks prior when Mega Boxes of 2019-20 Panini Prizm Draft hit retail stores, I found six at the Target closest to COMC Headquarters. Not being one to bust much basketball outside of Prizm products, nor many collegiate products, I found breaking the product to be very enjoyable (and lucrative – Megaboxes are stacked with silver prizms and colored parallels), which inspired my search for more of them locally. Oh, I pulled a Cam Reddish Color Blast SSP insert too!
  2. The weekend before I hit the Zion 1/1 I drove a giant loop around Western Washington to seven different Target stores in search of more megaboxes. I came home with only two, though I did find some 2019 Topps Holiday Baseball blaster boxes and hit a Metallic Snowflake Vladimir Guerrero Jr. /10 autograph.
  3. The only reason I had scheduled off Friday, November 8th was in anticipating of driving to Portland with some friends. Those plans fell through earlier in the week. On top of that, we had been dealing with our kitten who had gotten extremely ill earlier in the week, but had made a strong recovery on Friday morning. When I left the house on Friday, it was the first time I had gone anywhere that wasn’t COMC Headquarters or the Veterinarian Clinic in nearly a week.
  4. On a whim I decided to drive an extra eight miles out of the way to the Target where I bought the Megaboxes that held the Zion 1/1. I had never stepped foot in that Target before, but the weather was so nice out that day that I decided to take the trip east over to it despite heading home which was north.
  5. I had to ask a very helpful Target employee to open the Excell boxes sitting on the floor that hadn’t been unpacked yet. She gladly obliged, and although I’ve had others willing to do it in the past as well, I’ve had Target employees unwilling to do so until the Excell representative showed up and did it.
  6. The boxes sat on my floor for more than 36 hours while I spent the rest of my rare Friday off playing video games and opening the 12 blasters of 2019-20 NBA Hoops I had also found. I hit a Zion Williamson Rise & Shine Patch /25 in those.
  7. The only reason I was recording my break is to practice and dial in some settings on streaming software that I use for streaming video games. I had decided earlier in the month I wanted to revive my Youtube page, and basketball card breaks seemed like a good time to start.
  8. Panini had to be crazy enough to put one of the product hits in a retail box. This still baffles me. I’m so sorry to anyone who opened a bad hobby box of Prizm Draft!

As you can see, an awful lot of things had to go right (and wrong) and fall into place to prepare for this fateful 11:00pm Saturday night moment:

Having just watched my friend in the hobby KentuckyCards pull a Zion Williamson / R.J. Barrett dual auto Black Mosiac 1/1 from the same product (albeit, his was from a Hobby Box) just a couple weeks earlier, and fly it down to Dallas, Texas himself to get graded, I knew I had to do the same. So I did. 9 hours after hitting the card, I was sitting on a Southwest plane headed to the Lone Star State.

(Note: The dual 1/1 card mentioned above is being auctioned with 100% of the proceeds going to charity as of the publication of this article. Click here to view the auction.)

When I returned home, I decided to post the video and photos of the card on social media circles within the hobby – and as expected, it created a buzz, and quite a large one at that. It’s awfully strange being in the limelight for one trading card. For a Seattle kid who collects the Daniel Vogelbach‘s, Mitch Haniger‘s, and Tim Lincecum‘s of the world, the exposure and number of people who have reached out is a little overwhelming, but fun! I’ll probably never get 100,000 views and 200 followers overnight on TikTok ever again. I think I can live with that.

I’ve never had a more surreal experience in the trading card industry. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to make a living doing something that I truly love. The hobby has been incredibly good to me over my seven years with COMC, and I’ve been afforded to meet hundreds of amazing people from all walks of life, travel to several National Conventions, and share my perspective of the hobby with all of you. To hit a card of this magnitude sort of feels like a cherry on top, hence why upon pulling the card from the pack, I said several times, “I don’t deserve that card.”

I know what you’re next question is, and yes, I do plan to sell the card. As I spoke to above, I never expected to own a card like this at this stage of my life. Sure, it would be fun to keep it, potentially seeing it grow many times over in value over the years if Zion Williamson ends up being everything we think he is. But as of right now, my first priority as a newlywed is to make some memories with my wife on a proper honeymoon that this card can more than pay for. Never the less, I’m sure wherever we end up traveling to, I won’t be able to stay away from the local card shop!

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