Panini America Greatest Hits of Fraud, Scams & Mistakes
Here are the top mistakes, blunders, scams and/or boo-boos in the short history of Panini America’s presence in the U.S. sports card market since 2009.
Magic Johnson Autographs on Jordan Swagerty Cards
(2010) – The Magic Mistake
The first high profile mistake by Panini. The company affixed Lakers legend Magic Johnson sticker autographs on then baseball prospect Jordan Swagerty Donruss Elite cards. Swagerty never made it out of AA and Panini ended up wasting 905 Magic Johnson autographs on Swagerty cards.
2012 Panini Contenders Russel Wilson RC Ticket Variation
(2012) – Odd Things Afoot
For a card supposedly limited to #/25 copies according to everywhere you look, why Beckett Grading has graded 73 is a fair question. Are some of the autographs fake or did he sign more than expected?
Dealer Tells FBI Card Companies Knowingly Buy Fake Jerseys
(2012) – NY Daily News
Sports memorabilia dealer Bradley Wells, who pled guilty to mail fraud in 2012, sold bogus game-used jerseys to all the prominent trading card manufacturers. Wells acknowledged he was involved in “dirtying up” jerseys and gloves to make them look game used.
In a stunning claim, Wells told the FBI Panini America, Upper Deck and Topps knew they were purchasing phony game-used jerseys to insert in trading cards.
Panini Flawless Game Worn Scam
(2014) – YouTube Video
Perhaps the worst known blunder to date for Panini (until Dak Autopen). This was a scam because of Panini’s explanation of what occured. The company wrote on their blog that cards found in 2014 Flawless Football were mistakenly labeled “game-worn” instead of “event-worn”. Their explanation makes no sense.
One card in question was a Ryan Tannehill card serial numbered #/10. Panini claimed one of the ten cards was mistakenly labeled as “game worn”, while the other nine were correctly labeled as “game worn”. When has Panini or any card company made a card serial numbered #/10 and labeled 9 as game worn and 1 as event worn? They simply put the wrong patches inside the cards and got caught.
At the 2014 Las Vegas Industry Summit Panini announced the plans for a patch database featuring high-end cards. A small QR code was to be added to the back of cards. Collectors could then scan those codes and find the image of the card as it comes off the line from Panini. If the card did not match the image, it’s a fake patch card.
This plan never came to fruition and perhaps such a database would prevent Panini from getting away with more scams.
Panini Employee on Fox Business
(2014) – Fox Business
Fox Business anchors ask Panini North America VP Jason Howarth if Johnny Manziel’s memorabilia will go down in value if he performs poorly.
Howarth’s response, “From a memorabilia perspective, not at all. We won’t see it for a long time.” Howarth was on the show promoting $350 Manziel autograph footballs. Manziel no longer plays in the NFL.
$200 Target Boxes?
(2014) – Panini Blog
Someone at Panini thought it was a good idea to sell $200 Basketball boxes…. exclusively at Target.
The product didn’t sell at all and Panini had to dump boxes off to group breakers and internet retailers shortly after release.
2014 National Treasures Odell Beckham “Wave 2”
(2015) – Forum Thread
Group breakers and collectors noticed no Odell Beckham RC cards were being pulled from boxes of 2014 National Treasures Football. This sparked a lengthy debate about collation, hand packed products, and other cards that may have been impacted.
Panini never officially released a statement regarding the matter. Beckham cards were eventually found inside boxes, in what collectors dubbed “wave 2” of the product.
National Treasures Shelby Miller
(2015) – Twitter
Something Hillary and Trump supporters can agree on, don’t ever do this on a trading card.
How does this happen? pic.twitter.com/Vi5aPXmDWC
— Sports Card News (@SportsCardNews) January 9, 2015
National Treasures Whitey Ford
(2015) – Twitter
A 1/1 “game used” card of Whitey Ford featuring a Majestic logo. Problem being Majestic began making MLB jerseys in 1982 and Ford retired in 1967.
— Sports Card News (@SportsCardNews) February 26, 2015
2,000 Bogus Jim Thorpe Relic Cards
(2015) – Hauls of Shame
A long post about relic cards created from a fraudulent New York Giants Jim Thorpe jersey. The jersey was originally sold by Barry Halper at Sotheby’s in 1999.
Kristaps Porziņģis Flawless 1/1 Found in Immaculate Box
(2016) – Forum Thread
A Kristaps Porziņģis Flawless 1/1 NBA Logoman Rookie card, a huge hit, was found inside a box of the wrong NBA product.
2015-16 Panini Replay Basketball
(2016) – Forum Thread
This product was so bad…. or worse then normal….. that Panini received a ton of heat from card dealers. Panini offered a set of Panini Prizm Mosaic cards for those stuck with boxes. Original factory cost for Panini Replay was $191, boxes quickly dropped to around $60.
Panini HRX Cards Redeemed Without Video
(2016) – Forum Thread
In 2011 Panini’s Tracy Hackler called HRX revolutionary, and boldly predicted the cards would “take the trading card category to new heights by providing up to 30 minutes of HD-quality video content.”
Years later, collectors continued to wait on redemptions for HRX video cards. Panini ended up sending some HRX cards without working video after ditching the project altogether.
2016 National Treasures Football Disaster
(2017) – Panini Announcement
Another “mislabeled” situation with another high profile card. This time a 1/1 of Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Tom Brady and John Elway that was pulled live on camera and ended up on eBay. After persistent collectors called out Panini on social media, Panini issued a statement.
The card, labeled game used on the back, features Mitchell and Ness logos for Marino and Elway. Panini admitted in an article that those were player worn pieces. They noted other cards were also incorrectly labeled.
Mistakes in 2016 National Treasures Football:
#16 Peyton Manning/Dan Marino/Tom Brady/John Elway (Marino and Elway are player-worn)
#17 Eric Dickerson/Adrian Peterson/Jamal Lewis/Barry Sanders (Sanders is player-worn)
#20 Peyton Manning/Brett Favre/Dan Marino/Drew Brees (Marino is player-worn)
— Mitchell & Ness (@mitchell_ness) April 25, 2017
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 1, 2017
Fake Takkarist McKinley Autographs
(2017) – ESPN
Wow, just weeks after the previous disaster, Panini blows it again! This time the company confirmed autographs of 2017 NFL Draft prospect Takkarist McKinley were not signed by him.
Autopen Dak Prescott Autographs?
(2017) Sports Card Radio
Dallas Cowboys superstar Dak Prescott is believed to have used an autopen to sign his 2016 Panini Prizm rookie cards.
No card story has received this much media attention in years. ESPN, Deadspin, Washington Post, USA Today and many others covered the scandal.
Panini issued a statement that said:
They didn’t know where the cards came from. Some of the cards may or may not be real. Some of the cards in question are still missing.
Brian Kelley & Tyler Hubbard Florida Georgia Line Autopen
(2017) Blowout Cards Forum
After it was discovered Dak Prescott used an autopen, collectors began to look closely at more cards in question. It’s widely believed country music stars Brian Kelley & Tyler Hubbard used a machine to sign their 2014 Panini Country Music cards.
Panini has yet to release a statement, but they did remove several autographs that were for sale of Kelley and Hubbard on their website.
The Little Details Add Up
Dalvin Cook didn’t play for Michigan.
No – that’s not a UNC jersey.
No – that is not a Pro Bowl jersey.
(2018) Blowout Forum
A collector had some incoming packages damaged in the rain. Curious, he took the jersey pieces out of two damaged Tony Romo cards and noticed that on the back one says Dak Prescott.
Panini Sued Over Redemption Cards
(2019) Sports Card Radio
Kevin Brashear has had enough. He popped Panini America with a civil lawsuit in January 2019 over failure to produce redemption cards in a timely manner.
(2019) Sports Card Radio
MLB prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is seen on video throwing cards roughly into a large cardboard box during a Panini America signing session.
— Adam T. C. (@atc2448) March 18, 2019
TD Game Used or Not TD Game Used
Savvy collectors notice that these Terrell Davis 2017 Panini National Treasures cards, that say game used on the back, can’t be because the NFL shield & jersey style came after Davis retired.
An on-card autograph of Tampa Bay Bucs fullback Mike Alstott is found on a Jack Youngblood card.
Your Luka Doncic Autographs are Fake
Luka’s mom signed a bunch of his Panini cards. Scrubs
Just Don’t Do It
A “game used” card of Ken Griffey Jr has an Under Armour cleat affixed to it. Griffey Jr was a Nike athlete for the bulk of his career. Under Armour was barely a brand. Rumors are it is a cleat of Yankees star and the pride of Linden, CA Aaron Judge.
Panini applied sharpie to the backs of 2019-20 Absolute Basketball rookies.
Feel free to post your own experiences with Panini America in the comment section.