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Obama's high school basketball jersey scores $120K at auction

Thomas Barrabi

An anonymous bidder wrote a six-figure check to score a basketball jersey that former President Barack Obama wore during his prep school’s run to the Hawaii state title in 1979.

Obama’s No. 23 jersey from Punahou School sold for $120,000 at an event in Dallas last Saturday, Heritage Auctions said. The 58-year-old native of Hawaii wore the uniform during his senior year, when his varsity basketball team took home the 1979 Hawaii State Championship.

Presidential memorabilia is always a hot item on the auction marketplace, but Obama’s well-documented love of basketball likely pushed the jersey’s sale price higher, Heritage Auctions production manager Mike Provenzale told FOX Business.

“It’s a very unique piece obviously, a one-of-a-kind item,” Provenzale said. “Anything related to any political figure stirs a lot of emotion in people but this one is so unique because Obama’s the first president that’s been tied to a sport other than golf, really. There’s been several presidential golf clubs and sets of clubs that have sold in the past at auction, but this is the first athletic item outside of that and definitely the first thing from a president’s youth tied to athletics that’s ever sold.”

Peter Noble, who was three years behind Obama at Punahou School, put the jersey up for sale. Heritage Auctions said details from the jersey matched a photo from Noble’s high school yearbook, which showed Obama playing basketball. The jersey was set to be thrown out when Noble recovered it.

Noble told the Associated Press that he plans to donate some of the sale’s proceeds to Punahou School.


Heritage Auctions said Obama’s basketball jersey sold for a far higher price than most auctions of game-worn jerseys for noteworthy pro athletes, especially for an item that, for the auction house, is considered relatively new.

“For something that’s so recent, $120,000 is a huge number,” Provenzale said.

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