Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay recently revealed that he bought a baseball signed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, reportedly worth $50,000. The collector’s item is rare due to the ongoing war in Ukraine with sitting president Zelenskyy as the face of his country.
Irsay, on Thursday morning, took to Twitter to reveal his big purchase:
"Added to my @IrsayCollection yesterday at auction. [T]he only known baseball signed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a visit to NY in 2019. A portion of proceeds going to Ukrainian relief."
The winning bid came in at $50,103. Boston-based RR Auction will be donating its commission of more than $15,000 to relief efforts in war-torn Ukraine. The baseball was initially projected to sell for $15,000, so Irsay’s purchase for $50,000 is a huge boon.
TMZ reported that 35 bids were entered, and the buyer wished to remain anonymous.
The history of the baseball signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
According to RR Auction, President Zelenskyy signed his last name on the baseball in Ukrainian cursive and English print. His signature is located under an official MLB logo. The collector’s item also comes with a letter signed by Volodymyr Yelchenko, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United Nations during his tenure in 2019. At the time, Zelenskyy was visiting New York and signed the ball.
Former Ambassador Yelchenko gifted the baseball to Randy L. Kaplan, a government affairs specialist in New York. Kaplan is an MLB baseball collector and has collected signed MLB baseballs from world leaders and heads of state since 1996.
On February 24, 2022, Russian forces entered Ukraine's territory and sparked a war between the two nations that has continued since. The invasion has reportedly caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, with more than 6 million Ukrainians displaced from their home country. The ongoing war has garnered relief efforts from other countries and the entertainment and sports world on behalf of Ukraine.