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Mike Evans gave away another milestone Tom Brady ball.
Or so it appeared.
The fan kept it this time and turned it into a small fortune just hours before Brady announced his surprise return to the NFL on Sunday.
According to auctioneer Leland's, the previously presumed final touchdown of Brady's career sold for $518,628. Bidding for the ball started at $100,000 with the final price arriving after 23 bids early Sunday morning.
Leland's didn't reveal the name of the seller or the winning bidder. The seller is presumably a very fortunate fan sitting in the end zone when the Los Angeles Rams beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs in January en route to their Super Bowl win.
The winning bidder just spent half a million dollars on a random ball from a playoff loss that isn't likely to hold onto anywhere close to its six-figure value.
This is the ball that fetched more than $500K
With 3:20 remaining in what was previously believed to be Brady's final game, Brady found Evans for a 55-yard touchdown that cut Tampa Bay's deficit to 27-20. Evans, as is his practice, immediately flipped the ball into the end zone as a souvenir for a Bucs fan.
Mike Evans doing Mike Evans things.
— Darius Butler (@DariusJButler) January 23, 2022
The Rams went on to a 30-27 win, and Brady wouldn't throw another touchdown pass. With Brady's temporary retirement announced in January, the ball Evans casually tossed away gained tremendous value — momentarily, at least. Evans surely wasn't thinking about that in the moment.
But he has been here before.
Bucs negotiated return of previous milestone Brady ball
In October, Evans gave away another touchdown ball to a Bucs fan named Byron Kennedy. This ball just so happened to be the 600th touchdown of Brady's career. The significance of that ball was immediately clear, and Bucs staffers went into the stands to negotiate its return.
Kennedy gave it back only to later find himself chided by Brady, who told Peyton and Eli Manning on "Monday Night Football" the next day that Kennedy "lost all of his leverage once he gave the ball away." The value of the milestone ball was estimated anywhere from $500,000 to $750,000. Now it's part of Brady's personal trophy collection.
Kennedy came away with some autographed gear, Bucs season tickets and a bitcoin from Brady valued at roughly $63,000 at the time. If he held on to the bitcoin, he's watched its value plunge to roughly $38,000 as of Sunday.
Whomever caught the final touchdown ball from Evans was apparently taking notes on the ordeal and cashed in for more than half a million dollars on Sunday. The winning bidder, meanwhile, took a big gamble and and is surely regretting the decision now.