The Celebrity Influence: Trading Cards on the Rise

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The ownership of exclusive and rare items, from luxury cars to original art pieces, is a common pastime for many people, including celebrities. Some enjoy the chase, while others see it as a way to express how far they’ve come from the fruits of their labor. And since COVID-19, there’s been an emerging asset that’s beginning to hold newfound prestige in the entertainment world: trading cards.

In the age of social media and streaming, the trading card industry has recently seen a resurgence like no other time in its history. From the multi-platinum selling rappers Drake and Snoop Dogg to beloved actors Bryan Cranston and Mark Wahlberg, entertainers from all walks of life are diving head first into the “the hobby”— the term used by collectors, traders, and sellers to refer to the trading cards industry as a whole.

At the helm of this resurgence is Dappz Sports: a Los Angeles-based media company and 24/7 live-stream shopping experience for the most passionate enthusiasts in card collecting. Headed by Matthew McGuckin (aka as Dappz), Dappz Sports started as a passion project shot on a webcam and has since catapulted into the top media company in the hobby, with a passionate global following. Founded in 2019, Dappz Sports has amassed the largest social media following in the bobby that has surpassed a million active followers across all platforms.

“My grandfather was a scout for the New York Jets and I spent a lot of time in sports stadiums during my childhood,” Dappz  told me. “I always loved the memorabilia aspects of sports from signed jerseys, merchandise, and of course, sports cards. I grew up during the peak of the Pokemon era and collecting cards was huge back then.”

Despite his experiences with collecting cards as a child, Dappz wouldn’t revisit the hobby until there were echoes through the grapevine of a possible comeback. “I bought a few boxes of cards and combined the raw parts and slabs together with the hopes of flipping them for a profit. Soon enough, I found myself reselling cards for 5 times more than the price he got them for.” Once Dappz found himself earning $70,000 in a single night, he knew it was time to scale up. The creation of Dappz Sports was a chance to document every step of the process and add a layer of authenticity for the public to see firsthand. The 24/7 stream features all the wins, losses, triumphs, failures that come with the sports cards grind.

“We’re as transparent as it gets about what it takes to flip cards,” Dappz continued. “That’s what is so different about being in the hobby in this day and age— we have a chance to really bring people in on the journey. I recently purchased this card for $16,000 and was able to film the whole experience from the negotiation to the actual sale.” Dappz is personally passionate about this new level of interconnectedness and accessibility. Not everyone can buy and trade cards every week, but Dappz Sports allows viewers a chance to get in on the action and be a witness to it during all the highs and lows of the process.

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With the increased following comes a greater impact and influence. That same card that Dappz bought ignited a flame in the Star Wars card market, which only recently came into prominence. The same $150 box that spawned the high-value card at the time of the deal now costs $800— a 7x increase in 18 months. Dappz Sports was no longer just reporting on the market, they were actively moving the market by giving cards the spotlight they deserve.

Today, the market for Star Wars cards has grown significantly and has caught the eye of the multi-millionaire DJ, Steve Aoki, who began his collecting pursuits in the midst of the pandemic. When Topps released its 2022 Star Wars Galaxy Chrome box, Aoki went on the hunt— spending tens of thousands of dollars in his chase for specific cards. He scored a prestigious one-of-one Darth Vader card at Golden Auctions for $24,000 and eventually called on his friend Dappz to help secure a one-of-one Yoda card for $15,000 recently.

McGuckin sat down with Aoki to pick his brain about his collecting journey. Aoki expressed to him that he sees card collecting as the next wave of investment collection. “Cards are like art but they’re easier to resell,” Aoki told McGuckin during their chat. “If you walk into my house, you can see art. I have this ‘collector’s mindset’ and this falls in the same wheelhouse.”

While at first he was skeptical, Aoki was brought up to speed on card flipping by the likes of Gary Vee and Josh Luber after witnessing a friend of his flip a card for a $10,000 profit. While he started with sports cards, he also ventured into Dragon Ball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Marvel, and Pokémon; the latter of which opened him up to the community aspect of card collecting. “Community is a big part of why I was so into it because they totally embraced me” he told McGuckin.

With big names like Aoki becoming prominent collectors, there will be more doors opening for trading cards to expand into the entertainment world. “I think over time, there’s going to be a genre for everybody,” said Dappz. “Think about when any celebrity or any influencer releases some type of merchandise drop, they may sell out in a day. Now imagine they create 10 exclusive cards. Their fans would go crazy. It brings more people into the market— completely different worlds connected through cards.”

Connecting those different worlds is ultimately what Dappz as a brand aims to do. “I see a day where we have 100 different streams where we’re showcasing everything from collectibles, toys, signed memorabilia and more. Live streaming is the future of shopping and Dappz, as a brand, is ready to sell anything that fits into that future.”

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