Seattle man auctions Obama’s high school basketball jersey for $120,000
A Seattle man has auctioned off a basketball jersey believed to have been worn by former President Barack Obama while he was at a prep school in Honolulu.
It went for $120,000. Heritage Auctions said the jersey sold Saturday night in Dallas to a collector of American and sports artifacts who didn’t wish to be identified. The jersey was offered for sale by Peter Noble, who went to the same high school as Barack Obama. He was three years younger and wore the same jersey.
“We vetted his story, made sure it was all accurate, and then with the garment in hand we were able to match it to the photo (in the yearbook),” said Mike Provenzale, Production Manager of Heritage Auctions’ Sports Department. “All of that tied together perfectly, so we were very confident that this was indeed what it was purported to be.”
Noble is now 55 and living in Seattle, and said the jersey was destined for the trash when he originally picked it up from the school as a teenager. He saved it at the time because he also wore No. 23 and kept it for sentimental reasons, unaware that he was saving the president’s jersey. Years later he saw an old photo of Obama wearing a No. 23 jersey while at school.
“He stashed it away with some other high school things and then came back to it later and realized what he had after he made the connection with Obama, having worn it a few seasons ahead of him,” Provenzale said.
Provenzale is not at all surprised about the high price the jersey garnered among collectors, considering how much basketball meant to Obama, and the overarching historical significance.
“Obama is very passionate about basketball. He played in the White House, he talked about it often and used it in analogies in speeches for teamwork and cooperation. So having something like this that is not just something he was into but is tied to his youth is incredibly unique and very significant,” he said.
“We’ve never seen anything like this from a president’s youth, tied to athletic achievement, and not just that he was on the team — they won the state title that season — so it’s a huge moment in his life. For any collector of historical significance or sports significance, it really tied it all together.”