The Curse of the Autographed Footballs
Alexandria Durant, Founder and CEO of Durant Consulting, Inc., has 15+ years experience coordinating large-scale events and fundraisers all over the world. Here she shares her woes of events including autographed footballs.
I was the Director of Fundraising with a sports memorabilia company in New York City from 1999-2005. We brought our autographed sports memorabilia to charity events as part of our “risk-free” consignment program. If the item sold in auction, the contributing nonprofit got a percentage of the minimum bid and all proceeds above the minimum bid. If it didn’t sell, we simply sent the item back with no financial obligation to the charity. I don’t know why, but for some reason I had the worst luck with autographed footballs at these auction events. Cursed? Here’s a few examples.
International Yacht & Jet Show: Nassau, Bahamas At this multi-day event, the silent auction was hosted on 6 multi-million dollar yachts with several auction items set up on each yacht for bidding. This was a nightmare to coordinate logistically, but on the bright side, I was able to bring five girlfriends with me to help out since there were so many locations involved. Everything was going smoothly until two of the guests had a few too many glasses of Champagne and decided to play catch with one of the autographed footballs. They were throwing from one yacht to another and of course the football went into the water. Bye bye, autographed football!
Black Tie Gala at a very famous hotel: Midtown, NYC At the end of a long gala event, I was packing up the consignment items that did not sell in the auction. I had an organizational system of keeping all of the unsold bid sheets, so I knew exactly what was leftover and would consolidate all items to a few tables. In my black-tie gown, I kicked off my heels and began the super fun job of wielding a tape-gun to pack the items with bubble-wrap and cardboard boxes. I stood up from sealing a box, turned to grab the next item—an autographed football—and it was gone. I knew it was just there! I called over one of the hotel staff members that was breaking down the ballroom who then called a manager. The issue escalated to the security team who reviewed the video footage of the room and low and behold, a member of the cleaning crew was captured on tape “taking” the football. Security snooped around and found the ball stashed in a bin of used tablecloths, ready to go down to the laundry. Football justice!
A Celebrity Golf Tournament: Las Vegas
I did numerous events for NFL players that had their own foundations and these guys love to host a Celebrity Golf Tournament in Las Vegas! At one such event, the players finished 18 holes and the silent auction was at the Awards dinner that evening. At 5’ tall, it is a bit intimidating to be in a ballroom with 200 NFL body types, but it became pretty rote after awhile. Well… that all changed when at 9:57pm I had to walk around all of the auction tables to announce there was only 3 minutes left to bid. As the minutes clicked by, two of the players got in a battle over a bid sheet for… you guessed it, an autographed football. This predates mobile bidding so these pros were literally pulling the clipboard with the bid sheet back and forth between them to be the last bidder before 10pm closing. I watched as they jerked the clipboard again and again, like toddlers, and had to step between them to force them to stop. I remember looking up, up, up from one to another and finally placate them with the fact that I could get a second autographed ball if they would match the highest bid. This was way before I became a mom, so to this day I chalk it up to being the oldest of three that I could break up a good fight.
Stepping between two giant pro-ballers who both got an autographed football is only one example of our commitment to doing whatever it takes to create incredible evenings that have a huge financial impact for our clients and leave their guests with a great experience. Durant Consulting, Inc., is committed to providing high-quality, high-impact auctions and sponsorship management services to the table.