Athlete autograph shows bring celebrity athletes, singers, and book authors to fans in one-of-a-kind events. Local sports teams or entertainment venues typically organize these shows.
For collectors, getting an autograph in person is a rite of passage. However, the authenticity of a mark is often questioned. Three forensic handwriting experts disagreed when shown examples of the same signature.
What Happens at an Autograph Session?
Autograph sessions allow fans to meet their favorite celebrities and get a signed souvenir. These sessions are typically a multi-hour window where the guest sits down and signs items brought by fans, usually posters and sometimes other things like Funko Pop characters or Thor’s hammer.
Stars typically work with one autograph company specializing in their brands to sign these items. Depending on the lead, these companies might charge an additional fee for their service, but the celebrity is generally paid handsomely for their participation.
To minimize wait times, we recommend arriving at the venue 45 minutes before the start time of a session. This will give you enough time to pick up your tickets and line up. It is important to note that the number printed on an Autograph Ticket does not correspond with your place in line, as we will use a priority system to determine placement.
Please be courteous and respectful of the guests and other attendees. Remember that they’ve often been waiting as long as you have and deserve to have their moment with the guest. Refrain from monopolizing their time or asking for excessive personalization/sketches/etc, as this will deprive other fans of that opportunity.
If you have a question for a guest, please bring it up with an Autograph staff member before the session begins so they can know your request and have the appropriate information ready for you.
How Do Athletes Get Paid for Appearances?
Most elite athletes are paid through a patchwork of sponsorship, race income, and team support, created ad hoc as their sports professionalized. It’s a system that works for now, and any across-the-board changes would require the cooperation of dozens of stakeholders — who have no incentive to do so.
Organizers of the sports event are coordinating athlete autograph appearances to provide fans with a unique opportunity to meet their favorite sports stars and collect personalized mementos.
As a result, many athletes make supplemental money from autograph signings, merchandise sales, and local appearances.
Athletes in less popular sports can earn a small paycheck by signing autographs and running branded training clinics for fans. The NCAA’s new name, image, and likeness policy allows student-athletes to profit from their brand on social media and through local fairs and special events.
In the past, college players were often only allowed to benefit from their names and images if they signed multimillion-dollar contracts with big brands. Some student-athletes can get their names in front of more people for less money, but more is needed to pay the bills for many above-average swimmers and runners. As such, some have devised creative ways to supplement their incomes.
How Much Are Autographs Worth?
Generally, autographs are worth something to fans, and their value is typically based on two factors: popularity or notoriety and rarity—the more famous the person, the higher the value of their signature. A rare autograph can also increase in value, such as when the original copy of George Washington’s Bill of Rights sold for $9.8 million in 2012.
The value of an autograph can also be determined by how well the signature is written. Some people have a consistent and neat style, while others may scribble haphazardly. This can significantly impact the value of an autograph, as some stars are very good at creating a distinctive and memorable signature.
Many collectors also consider how long the player or celebrity has been at their sport when determining an autograph’s value. A new athlete’s autograph will often be worth less than a veteran player’s signature since the former has been in the game for fewer years and is less familiar with the sport’s nuances.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the autograph market significantly, with online sales being a big part of the business. An agent who stages in-person autograph sessions says his last event before the pandemic featured Cardinals legend Larry Fitzgerald. He says that in addition to a signed item, fans could meet the star and take their picture with him.
How Much Do Athletes Get Paid for Autographs?
Athletes are in high demand for autographs; their signatures are considered a collector’s item. They have a unique story about pushing themselves past their limits to achieve their goal, and this intense focus and determination inspire their fans. As a result, athletes can command high fees for their signatures.
However, it is essential to note that the average athlete only gets paid a small fraction of the total cost of their appearance. Most of the money is spent on marketing, labor, and rent. Some athletes may also have endorsement deals significantly contributing to their overall earnings.
It is not uncommon for college athletes to attach price tags to their autographs. This is done to scare off opportunists who only want to sell the autographs for profit. They are often torn between respecting the trust their colleges have in them and the desire to make more money, which can take away from the beauty of sports.
Ultimately, professional athletes are compensated for their work by the fans who enjoy watching them play and want to show their support in return. This free market economy also works for doctors, plumbers, singers, accountants, and delivery drivers. It is only natural that people will pay for what they believe is worth their hard-earned money.