“All That Hurts Are My Fingers From Opening… 1,000 Packs Of Cards Per Day” | Blake Martinez Traded NFL For Multi-Million Dollar Pokémon Company

Former New York Giants LB Blake Martinez needed to decide between trying to make the Las Vegas Raiders this season or doubling down on selling Pokémon cards. He chose the latter and his company, Blake’s Breaks, brought in more than $5 million over the last seven months.

“Every single day when I wake up, my shoulder doesn’t hurt and my back doesn’t hurt anymore,” Martinez told CNBC. “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.”

Martinez Had A ‘Pivot’ Moment

During the early days of the pandemic Martinez, like many others, was looking for side hobbies and ventures to keep himself occupied. He was an avid collector of the Pokémon trading cards as a kid, and started out to rebuild his collection. This led to live sessions on the secondary marketplace platform Whatnot. Martinez started Blake’s Breaks in 2022 and went all in.

He was spending more time on his new venture than he was thinking about playing football. Having earned over $28 million in his career, Martinez reached a pivotal point. He surmised that he could make really good money without destroying his body.

Big Plans for Secondary Market Business

“I think there’s more to my success than [my name],” Martinez tells CNBC’s “Make It.” “I used to be like the quarterback of the defense, I was calling plays. When I started this business, it felt like running a team again.”

Martinez has 15 contract employees and a pair of warehouses in Miami and Denver, with another one in New Jersey reportedly in the plans. The team helps purchase inventory and resell cards and run live streams on secondary market platforms.

Blake Martinez Image Credit: Cooper Neill/Getty

Blake’s Breaks won’t be limited to just Pokémon cards. Martinez has big plans. His goals include: taking the business international and opening warehouses in Canada and the U.K.; hitting $10 million in annual revenue, expanding into trading comic books and reaching $25 million in revenue.

Ultimately, Martinez wants to sell collectibles in all of Whatnot’s categories; according to the company’s website, there are more than 50 of them.

Technology has enabled the secondary market to explode. Tapping into something like nostalgia, as is the case with Pokémon, has the potential to generate a lot of revenue. The accessibility and demand creates bidding wars, which is good if you possess the right inventory.

For someone like Martinez who never made a Pro Bowl despite leading the league in combined tackles one season, this was an easy risk reward play. He was never going to earn the endorsement dollars off the field as a non superstar LB. He would continually put his life and health at risk by trading on his body.

By using the money he earned playing to start an e-commerce business while still active, he saw the math. If he was bringing in this much money without being committed 100 percent, what could happen if he did?

That’s what he will find out going forward. So far, so good, and it’s a lot easier on his body.

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