Debunking ‘Loaded Boxes’ Myth: Fanatics’ Independent Audit Finds Cards Packaged At Random

No, breakers and high-end influencers are not getting “loaded boxes.” To help dispel this rumor, Fanatics announced Monday at the Topps Industry Conference in Atlanta that they had accounting firm KPMG conduct an independent audit to help put collectors’ concerns to rest. According to Fanatics, it’s the first time in the trading card industry an audit like this has happened.

KPMG’s independent report states that “high-value cards are inserted randomly within the Company’s packaged finished goods and distributed by the Company to its customers in a random manner.”

In other words, when you buy a pack of Topps or Bowman cards, you should have just as much of a chance of finding a high-value card as anyone else who buys a pack from that same production run. There’s no funny business going on behind the scenes.

2024 Topps Chrome Black Elly De La Cruz Autograph rookie card
2024 Topps Chrome Black Elly De La Cruz Autograph rookie card. (credit: Topps)

The examination focused on a crucial aspect of the sports card business — how high-value cards are distributed. These coveted cards, which Fanatics defines as being numbered (having a limited print run), autographed by the featured player, or containing a piece of game-used memorabilia like a jersey or bat, can dramatically increase the worth of a pack or box.

Collectors have long worried about “loaded boxes” for breakers and influencers, where they would be receiving the majority of high-end hits, while those buying hobby boxes online or at a local card shop wouldn’t sniff cards like that. The problem is, while the regular collector might open a box or two of their favorite product, breakers are opening dozens or even hundreds of cases, where they are more likely to pull better parallels and autograph cards. Now, there have been anomalies like when Blez Baseball pulled over 90 autograph rookie cards in a 2023 Topps Chrome Update Sapphire case break, but breaks like that are exceedingly rare. Fanatics sought to assure its customers that it has rigorous controls in place to prevent this.

“It is important to confirm for collectors that the process of packaging and distributing our cards is truly random and our employees are unable to direct high-value cards to specific customers,” Fanatics Collectibles CEO Mike Mahan told the conference, according to The Athletic.

2023 Topps Dynasty Shohei Ohtani World Baseball Classic Patch Autograph
2023 Topps Dynasty Shohei Ohtani World Baseball Classic Patch Autograph. (credit: Topps)

KPMG’s role was to scrutinize and verify Fanatics’ assertion. The accounting firm examined the company’s policies, processes, and controls related to “collation and packaging” — industry speak for how the cards are sorted, combined into packs, and then assembled and shipped in larger packages.

After performing all the procedures they deemed necessary, KPMG gave Fanatics a clean bill of health. “In our opinion,” the report states, “Management’s Assertion is fairly stated in all material respects.”

Fanatics says they will be doing this independent audit on a yearly basis.

The announcement of the independent audit came the same day Topps revealed it’s extending the expiration date on redemption cards to ten years.

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