TRADING CARDS & COLLECTIBLES

Mike Trout Signed a Lifetime Trading Card Contract with Topps. Is This the New Signature Shoe Deal?

The Angels outfielder and future Baseball Hall of Famer is exclusively a Topps man for the rest of his days.

The landscape of athlete endorsement deals just took a major step forward. On Monday morning, as first reported by Sports Business Journal, Topps announced a lifetime agreement with Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout.

Trout’s cards have generated great interest in the market among fans, all the way back to his first prospect cards from 2009. Last August, Goldin Auctions sold his one-of-a-kind rookie card for what was then a record-breaking $3.93 million sum.

It’s simply the latest big-time move from Topps in recent weeks. The iconic brand is commemorating its 70th anniversary amid a serious boom in the sports cards and collectibles industry, and has celebrated the occasion with the official announcements of their expansion into the Japanese market, a 50-card set featuring the NFL Draft’s presumptive No. 1 overall pick, Trevor Lawrence, and an exclusive collection with Sports Illustrated, the first drop of which includes a 2012 SI cover featuring Trout himself.

Mike Trout has been an exclusive Topps partner ever since he was drafted — a deal which he has re-upped several times, most recently in 2016. When Trout extended his original deal, he expressed his hope that Topps would be his go-to trading card partner throughout his career.

This week, they made sure of it.

Trout’s lifetime deal is still an uncommon one for active professional athletes. Although the precise details of the contract are not yet available, it is expected to be both the longest and the largest ever signed by an individual player.

And it ought to be considered the start of a trend.

For Trout, Topps secures its place on a lengthy list of endorsement contracts, which also includes Nike, BODYARMOR, and Rawlings. This begs a serious question: Is the exclusive cards and collectibles deal the new signature sneaker deal? If so, what will be the memorabilia equivalent of the player exclusive shoe? What’s the collectibles world’s answer to the Air Jordan?

In time, Mike Trout may be the first one to define exactly that, and his big move will almost certainly be followed by other big names across global sports. Now, all he needs is that World Series title.