Image: U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps
Ciro Fusco  /  EPA
An autographed 2004 trading card of Michael Phelps that recently went for $25 could soon rise in market value to $1,000.
updated 8/15/2008 4:33:21 AM ET 2008-08-15T08:33:21

Chalk up another remarkable feat for Michael Phelps: somehow making swimming trading cards popular.

An autographed 2004 trading card of the record-shattering Olympian was trading for as much as $500 on Thursday, just two weeks after industry experts say the collectible could be easily had for $25.

“It’s pretty good,” a grinning Phelps said Friday when informed of the price in Beijing, where he won his sixth gold medal.

The trading card is only a part of Phelps’ long-stated effort to elevate interest in swimming to more than once every four years.

“I heard the (TV) ratings are the highest back home for people watching the Olympics and watching swimming,” he said. “My goal of raising the bar in the sport of swimming is coming along nicely, but it’s still going to take time for me to really get it to where I want it to be.”

The market value could rise to $750 to $1,000 if Phelps breaks Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals at a single Olympics this weekend, said Tracy Hackler, an associate publisher with Beckett Media LLP, a Dallas-based memorabilia company.

"It's unlike anything we've seen in the trading card category," said Hackler, whose company is an industry leader in collectibles pricing.

Slideshow: Emotional moments Arlington, Texas-based Donruss produced about 300 of the autographed Phelps cards in 2004 and about 5,000 "common" cards not bearing the American swimmer's autograph, Donruss spokesman Scott Prusha said.

The non-autographed cards have enjoyed a spike in market value too, going from $2.50 to about $20, Hackler said.

Phelps has won five gold medals, setting five world records in the process, at the Beijing Olympics. He picked up his 10th and 11th career gold medals Wednesday to become the winningest Olympian of all time.

The card was part of a special "Fans of the Game" insert by Donruss that paired celebrities with their favorite teams. Phelps' card includes him next to the Baltimore skyline and a pennant of his favorite NFL team, the Ravens.

Others cards in the set included actors John Travolta, James Gandolfini and Charlie Sheen. But none have gotten the response of Phelps' card.

Hackler said Beckett listed the card at $150 on Wednesday and $350 on Thursday, when he said it was trading online for upward of $500.

"We're kind of in uncharted waters here," Hackler said. "No pun intended."

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 3.79%
$30K home equity loan FICO 4.99%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.69%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.83%
Cash Back Cards 17.80%
Rewards Cards 17.18%