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Former NFL pro makes millions selling Pokémon cards

Blake Martinez has made a remarkable career switch
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Blake Martinez was already living the dream, playing in the NFL for the New York Giants and making more than $28 million over the course of his six years long football career. However, an injury put an end to all that when he tore his ACL in 2021 and was released from his team one year afterwards. As he was working on his rehabilitation, he got deeper into a hobby he had picked up during the Covid-19 pandemic: Pokémon TCG or – more specifically – buying and selling the game’s cards.

He’d already played the TCG as a kid, using money he earned by doing chores to buy cards, so this wasn’t something completely alien to him. When a Pokémon TCG craze captivated many of the internet’s biggest streamers in 2020, he also jumped on the train.

Realizing the potential value of some of these cards, he started opening them live on stream on the collectible reselling platform Whatnot, in which he previously invested. Auctioning off the cards he pulled one by one, he achieved prices of up to $672,000 – and that’s not even one of the most expensive Pokémon cards on the market.

Blake Martinez holding up Pokémon cards.

Martinez misses football sometimes, he says, but is very happy with his new and healthier lifestyle.

Once he had recovered, Martinez needed to make a decision about his future: Refocus on the NFL with his new team, the Las Vegas Raiders, or fully follow his newly found passion. It may surprise many people dreaming of playing in the NFL, but he chose to go all-in on Pokémon TCG.

Founding his company, Blake’s Breaks, in July 2022 and going full-time with it in November of the same year after announcing his retirement from professional football, he’s already made $5 million in revenue by trading cards on Whatnot, according to CNBC Make It.

Operating from two warehouses with a third to come soon, his company now has 15 employees and Martinez is still at the core of everything, saying he once again feels like he’s leading a team.

He misses the world of football sometimes and the recent Super Bowl made him particularly nostalgic, he admits.

At the same time he’s happy not to have to put his body through the stress of being a professional athlete anymore: “Every single day when I wake up, my shoulder doesn’t hurt and my back doesn’t hurt anymore. When all that hurts are my fingers from opening, like, 1,000 packs of cards per day, I think, ‘I’m going to keep doing this.’”