New PSA Data: Caitlin Clark NIL Trading Cards See a 12,000% Increase in Grading

Collectors are placing high value on Clark's NIL trading cards signaling a positive indication for the NIL memorabilia market as a whole
Apr 15, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Caitlin Clark poses with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert after
Apr 15, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Caitlin Clark poses with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert after / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Caitlin Clark is a bonafide star. There are many qualitative ways to measure her fame: the constant appearance on national television commercials, the appearance on Saturday Night Live, and the hysteria of her die-hard fanbase.

Quantitative means to capture her stardom are also ample: dramatic increases in television ratings of her games, ticket prices for previous Iowa games and upcoming Indiana Fever games, and the staggering $78,000 price a buyer paid at auction to take home a one-of-one autographed NIL trading card.

However, one often undiscussed metric to capture the buzz of an athlete may be more mathematically shocking than the rest - trading card grading volume.  

Grading a trading card is a way for sports collectors to help establish a market value for resale based on the card’s condition. This is typically only done for players with high market value or scarce cards of lesser desired players. PSA is the industry leader in sports card grading, in which a 1-10 scale is used to determine the value of a card; often, the difference in even one increment in grading can be worth thousands of dollars: the Panini Hoops Hyper Gold Victor Wembanyama rookie card is valued at $17,100 at a PSA 10 grade; at a PSA 9 grade, the value drops to $6,271. 

New PSA data has revealed that in March, the grading volume for Caitlin Clark’s NIL cards skyrocketed by an astonishing 12,279% since they were first released in May 2023.  The month-to-month grading of her cards is listed below: 

  • May 2023 - 34 cards graded
  • June 2023 - 150 cards graded
  • July 2023 - 359 cards graded
  • August 2023 - 636 cards graded
  • September 2023 - 620 cards graded
  • October 2023 - 525 cards graded
  • November 2023 - 728 cards graded
  • December 2023 - 840 cards graded
  • January 2024 - 959 cards graded
  • February 2024 - 1,943 cards graded
  • March 2024 - 4,209 cards graded 

Clark’s most graded product is her 2022 Bowman Chrome U, which had totaled 2,300 copies examined by PSA. This version is her most significant card to date, as it was her first mass-distributed trading card and carries the sought-after “1st Bowman” Insignia. While considered a “base card,” the 2022 Bowman Chrome U is valued at $15.25 ungraded and $167 for a PSA 10. Compared to the base cards of NBA rookies, only Victor Wembanyama can command a higher market value. The contrast is shocking, as most NBA lottery picks fall in the mid $30 range for PSA 10 graded base cards.  

The limited run versions of Clark's NIL cards hold insane value. Ungraded, the twenty-five card limited print orange autograph version of the 2022 Bowman Chrome U will fetch $1,867, and if it comes back a PSA 10, the price jumps all the way up to $5,400.

So, what does this signal? The obvious answer is Caitlin Clark's undeniable stardom. Caitlin Clark became a household name during her March Madness run in 2023, reaching a level of stardom that only a handful of women’s basketball players have been able to actualize. Now, as evidenced by many factors - including her trading card statistics - her fame has transcended the limit of what many believed was possible for a women’s collegiate athlete to attain. Caitlin Clark was big in 2023, but now she is omnipresent; her dominance in early 2024 was enough for sports collectors to invest in her future, indicating a shared belief amongst the most devout sports fans that Caitlin Clark’s stardom will stand the test of time.   

Clark's grading volume also indicates a positive trend for the NIL trading card industry as a whole. The NIL memorabilia space is still a novel market, as it was birthed less than three years ago following the NCAA’s highly publicized 2021 rule change that lifted a moratorium on athletes from monetizing their publicity rights. With collectors rushing to grade NIL products, it signals that the collector market will place substantial value on these new products, similar to professional sports memorabilia. With NIL trading cards still in their infancy, it is likely that the positive reception of Clark’s cards and cards from other peers in the NCAA will spur investment from card manufacturers and collector demand in the NIL space.      

Noah Henderson


Professor Noah Henderson teaches in the sport management department at Loyola University Chicago. Outside the classroom, he advises companies, schools, and collectives on Name, Image, and Likeness best practices. His academic research focuses on the intersection of law, economics, and social consequences regarding college athletics, NIL, and sports gambling. Before teaching, Prof. Henderson was part of a team that amended Illinois NIL legislation and managed NIL collectives at the nation’s most prominent athletic institutions while working for industry leader Student Athlete NIL. He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois College of Law in Urbana-Champaign and a Bachelor of Economics from Saint Joseph’s University, where he was a four-year letter winner on the golf team. Prof. Henderson is a native of San Diego, California, and a former golf CIF state champion with Torrey Pines High School. Outside of athletics, he enjoys playing guitar, hanging out with dogs, and eating California burritos. You can follow him on Twitter: @NoahImgLikeness.