NEW YORK (WFAN / WCBS 880) — The debate raged all weekend long and spilled over into Monday: if you were Christian Lopez, would you have given back Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit ball?

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane On The Story

The results were mixed, though now it seems Lopez will have to pay a hefty tax on the bounty he received from the Yankees in exchange for the prized piece of memorabilia.

According to the New York Daily News, Lopez, who admitted he owes more than $100,000 in student loan debt, may have to pony up between $5,000 and $13,000 to the IRS.

The New York Times calculated the superfan’s tax bill — for the Jeter autographed bats, balls and jerseys, four front-row seats on Sunday and four Champions Suite tickets for the remainder of the season — at around $14,000.

“Worse comes to worse, I’ll have to pay the taxes,” Lopez told the New York Daily News. “I’m not going to return the seats. I have a lot of family and friends who will help me out if need be.”

Lopez gave up his chance at selling the ball, valued by Steiner Sports at $250,000 on the open market. Now the 23-year-old Verizon employee wouldn’t mind a little help — maybe from the Yankees?

“The IRS has a job to do, so I’m not going to hold it against them,” he told the Daily News, “but it would be cool if they helped me out a little on this.”

If the Bombers turn a blind eye, Lopez will surely be dreading tax day.

As University of Cincinnati tax professor Paul Caron told the Times, “Pretty clearly he’s going to have to report as income the value of all the stuff he got for the ball.”

Should the Yankees give Lopez a hand with his tax bill? Sound off in the comments below…

Comments (48)
  1. Lynn says:

    Personally I would have kept the ball and sold it for the $250K, but I can understand why he did it. He thought he was doing it to be nice to Jeter hopefully they help him pay off the taxes he will owe now for his kindness.

  2. Old Yankee says:

    No two ways about it. Jeter is the one standing to gain the most out of this deal. The Yankees don’t owe him a thing beyond what they are paying him, have paid him and will pay him in salary.

    Indeed, Jeter is the one who should be paying the freight on this deal and helping out the fan with the tax bill. Otherwise, Jeter should give the ball back to the guy who caught it and he can sell it and pay the taxes.

  3. Jason says:

    What about the “kindness and unselfishness” of the IRS, folks? They’re the real problem, not Lopez, Jeter, or the Yanks- and the overwhelming number of people on this thread that they deserve no criticism on here. Pathetic!

    1. LG says:

      Tax money is part of the revenue collected for the communities from the entertainment industry. The community must endure the headaches of having publicly attended events in its neighborhood. Members of the IRS aren’t running off to take elaborate vacations with that money. And the Yankees tickets are not a necessity of life–therefore, they are taxed.

      The real issue is not with the IRS…it is that the Yankees gave him the tickets for compensation for the ball, but they could not pay the taxes for them. I would imagine the organization is not allowed to pay the taxes. If so, that’s the part of the law that needs to be examined. However, I could see someone taking advantage of the system with a change in protocol. This seems to be a catch-22 situation. I hope the team can give the guy some help, and nobody says a word about it so there are no legal issues. Surely there are between 5,000 and 13,000 people working in the Yankees organization who could take up a collection at $1 each.

  4. Krh says:

    Personally, I think it’s a double edged sword – I’d be willing to bet that all you fools calling him a meat head and other ridiculous and immature things would be chastising him had he taken the ball for himself. It’s not such an easy decision when you have millions of people expecting you to do the right thing, so give the guy a break – if Derek Jeter is the guy I think he is, I’m CERTAIN that he’ll help this kid out.

  5. GRobert Waldman says:

    Get the ball officially appraised and Christian can declare that value minus the value of the memorabilia and tickets as a NET LOSS on his Income Taxes (federal, state and city). He only has to worry about any Gift Tax on the ball In the end, he may owe little or nothing.

  6. colin says:

    I agree the kid is a meat head and should be forced to pay the taxes on the ball.

  7. ham07 says:

    I have to commute 1 hr each way tomorrow to make a living for my two young kids. The moron gives away financial stability for some trinkets. What a coperate tool. Believe me Jeter and the Yankees aren’t having to tighten their belts.

  8. SoulSoldSeparately says:

    Jeter should fork up the money himself. Jeter made what, $189MM over the past 10 years? Unless he’s worse than Mike Tyson at managing his money, Jeter shoulld be able to hand over $14k without even realizing it’s gone

  9. Jen says:

    Its only taxable if its a PRIZE not a GIFT. This is not a prize because it was not advertised as such. A prize would need to be written with rules and clearly stated before it was given out. This is a gift in return for a gesture. There should be NO TAX.

  10. Clark Kentt says:

    LMAO….serves him right for being an idiot. His dad should have smack him besides his head. $100K in student loans and you work at Verizon, jeez…That there tells us you aren’t too keen. What degree were you going for that has you at Verizon? Your decision to return the ball tells us you aren’t too smart. What are all the acolades you received “for doing the right thing” doing for you now? nothing, you need to get what you can when given the opportunity. You let yours go! You easilly could have pushed the Yanks and Jeter to pay $1mill, worse case hold off, put the ball in a safety deposit box and when he gets into the hall of fame you cash in. Either way, you make bank. Plus, you should have demand the Yankees for nosebleed, behind dugout and suite season tickets for LIFE. The Yankees will pay anything to have that ball.

  11. Bell Toller says:

    Why the hell do the Yankees have to pay the tax bill on this?

  12. eddie says:

    Sean T hit the nail on the head, famous saying, Nice guys finish last comes to mind, the kid was holding a lotto ticket in his hand in a form of a ball, and gave it away for what amounts to pennies for the true worth of the ball.

    Kid should seriously sit down with some attorney and see if he has a chance at getting that ball back.

  13. Spanky says:

    End the IRS!!! Problem solved.

  14. Sean T says:

    The kid is a typical obese stupid meathead and deserves what he gets. Giving the ball back is a disgrace. A quarter of a million dollars is a house, it’s your kids’ education. And you give it away? Pathetic. There are teachers and hospital workers in this country who make 30,000 a year and you have a chance at 250K minimum and you don’t cash it in? The arrogance and utter idiocy of this man to spit in fortune’s face the way he did makes me sick. He should be forced to have a vasectomy to make sure he doesn’t spread his moronic genes.

  15. smitty says:

    Whether Lopez, the Yankees or Derek settle the tax issue is not the issue here. It’s just another way for this crazy Government of ours to find yet another way to tax us out of existence and get into our private lives any which way they can.

  16. Brian says:

    Hopefully if a clever accountant can’t get the tax bill eliminated then either the Yankee’s organization or Jeter should take care of this great fan of baseball. He is more than a gentleman to give the ball back to Derek. Most people would have held out for the big pay day.
    This guy deserves all the help he can get.

  17. Scott says:

    I think everyone here is misinformed. The ball was given to Jeter, on behalf of the Turn-2 Foundation which, is a 15c Non-profit Organization. Where that ball’s domicile is, is irrelevant. Therefore, the gift is tax exempt. No taxes due on anyone’s part. As far as the gift’s given by Jeter to the fan, this is a non-issue and a clever accountant will legally make this painless to the young man. In the end, the kid did the right thing in accordance to his values and morals. What a great great kid. I have nothing but respect for him.

  18. Lieutenantdan says:

    Jeter has always appeared to be a gentleman, at least this is what appears in the press and on the Yankee Channel. I cannot help to wonder why Jeter himself did not fork over some money to the young man who had caught the ball.
    If it were me I would have given this young man a check for $250,000,00.
    Jeter appears to be the luckiest person not only in baseball but in life as well and is worth millions of dollars. Coughing up a couple of hundred of thousand to this young man who is not as fortunate as Jeter and the Yankees are would have been the right thing to do. I doubt that Jeter would miss the money and I doubt that the Yankees would either. They could have turned this into the world most positive publicity stunt ever but apparently they are too greedy.
    Catching the ball was this kids winning lottery ticket, a once in many a lifetimes
    deal. To think that Jeter and the Yankees took advantage of him disgusts me.
    Shame on you Jeter and shame on the Yankees and the Yankee management.
    Makes me want to throw up and almost become a Boston fan.
    Again, shame on you Jeter and shame on the Yankees and the Yankee management!

  19. A FAN says:

    Why don’t all you bleeding heart Yankee Fans who think he did the right thing chip in and help him out with his tax bill since you think Jeter owes him nothing.

  20. eddie says:

    kid has a big heart, but very naive, that ball would be worth millions as the years go bye, the kid hit lotto and didnt realize it and gave it all away for some memorabilia , that wouldn’t come close to what that ball would be worth

    if the kid has any intelligence, he should consider a lawyer step in to see if the Yankees pulled a fast one on him, which i truly feel they did, after all that organization makes billions, and fir what they gave him for that ball is pennies, for the true value that ball represents, i say lawsuit.

  21. Marv Throneberry says:

    Hey, whotabout the Gift Tax Lopez now owes the IRS, NYS, and NYC on the $250,000+ gift to Jeter? Giving away over $13,000 to any one person in a single year incurs a gift tax liability on the giver, not the receiver of the gift. Grin and pay up, Lopez… and better consult a tax lawyer.

  22. Big Stan says:

    If Derek or the Yankees help Christian out with his tax bill, wouldn’t he have to report that as well. It would be about a $14.000 gift Personally, I think the Tax Man should give the kid a break. It’s the Christian thing to do. As the old adage goes, Good guys finish last.

  23. DCOnEdge says:

    should have just sold the darn ball. For all the fools who said this guy (in over $100,000 debt and working as a cell phone salesman) was doing something “honorable” by giving a half million dollar gift to a multimillionaire, there is no further argument to support your idiocy.

  24. mds says:

    Jeter owes Mr. Lopez nothing. It is well known to sports fans that taxes are due when something like this happens. Let Lopez sell some hats, seats, etc. and pony up. Prizes are taxable … period! Besides, there are legal ways of reducing the tax bite. But leave Jeter alone; this is not his problem.

  25. Jack says:

    Dumb, dumb, dumb. The kid didn’t want to look bad and he’s paying the price. If he sold the ball, he could have paid the taxes, bought some seats and pay down his school loan. Jeter had no problem in being creative on his taxes when he tried to tell NY state he was a Florida resident. I’m sure he can respect someone who is just as creative with their own finances. As long as Jeter gets the ball, all ends well.

  26. Debbie says:

    All the fans are true believers of Jeter, now that this young man thought more of him than his own pocket. Let’s see just how “wonderful” Mr. Jeter really is, this guy is a real stand-up guy and felt the warmest to return the historical ball to Jeter and now look.
    He owes back money on “School loans”..not Child Support, let’s hope Jeter will do the right thing.

  27. Jim says:

    Come guys think like the IRS. If Jeter pays the taxes, that is income to Lopez and he’s back with the same problem. It may be less but he still has to pay for doing the right thing. It may not be fair but that’s how the IRS works and I don’t think anyone has ever accused the IRS of giving someone a break.

  28. dj4k says:

    Im not a tax attorney but if you sell something supposedly worth 250,000 for say 30,000 I might look for a 220,000 dollar loss. The bats, balls and jerseys should only be valued at cost and not including value of autographs because its worthless unless you sell them and then you owe taxes on difference. Once in a while the Times should mind there own business.

    1. Avi says:

      It may be worth 250K but your basis is what it cost you, i.e., zero. So you would have a 30K taxable gain.

      1. Austin says:

        By that logic, if the Yankees organization gave him their own tickets and memorabilia, then in theory, it cost them nothing. While the bats, jerseys, and tickets may be priced at around 30K, at least the tickets were obtained by the Yankees for $0.

  29. AngryPete says:

    You can thank the New York Times for “trying to figure out” what he would owe and making this an issue. The IRS wouldn’t know this kid existed come April 2012.

  30. Mitch w says:


  31. Cyn says:

    What an idiot. He clearly did not have a smart woman guiding him, When he is 50 and still paying off school he will regret that he did not keep the ball.

  32. brooklyn4ever says:

    Come on Princess Derek, help the kid out. Although I would have kept it, guess the kid had a conscience and in his eyes, did the right thing. He looks like a good guy to boot!

  33. NJ Observer says:

    I hope Jeter or the Yankees help him out wiht the tax bill and possibly part of his student loans… would be an act of kindness in return for his goodwill…..

  34. Iambaseball says:

    This kid is sweet – not like the crazy sports memoriabilia guys who were confronted by OJ Simpson. The Yankees should gve him a grant to help pay his student loans; then that tax bill won’t hurt as much!

  35. Ilovebaseball says:

    What would have been the taxes on $250K if he sold the ball? A lot more. It’s so sad – those front row seats were possibly less money than the taxes.

  36. lovethejeets says:

    I think they should help him out. He gave the ball back to Jeter in good faith even though he could have made alot of money that would have made him debt free. The NYY organization should, IN GOOD FAITH, return that kindness and unselfishness.

  37. gerry williams says:

    What’s Jeter make in a week again?

    1. Mark says:

      $288,461.54 per week, or $28.54 every minute of 2011.
      $347,863.25 per week, or $34.42 every minute since 2003, on average.

      I think Jeter could cut the guy a check for $50k and call it a day. He’ll be covered if the $50k is considered income and worst case scenario, he’ll have $20k-ish, give or take, left over for himself at the end of the day to go along with those sweet suite seats and his other memorabilia.

  38. A. Bruno says:

    Nobody thinks of this stuff while in the moment and that includes Jeter and the Yankees organization. It will be handled and it is a non-story. There will be nothing for Christian to regret and it will be on account of the Yankees doing what needs to be done. Living a dream, it must feel great!

    1. Joan Antuofermo says:

      best comment on here!

  39. no name says:

    Come on Jeter, help this fan out he sure thought of you when he returned that ball. Let’s be fair.

    1. FJ Gruder says:

      But if he sold the ball, the tax man would still come. Yes, he would have cash from the sale, presumably but he could raise cash by selling the collectibles for example.

    2. CGM says:

      How about Jeter giving back the ball, the Yankees taking back the seats and letting the kid sell the ball?

  40. K says:

    Basically Christian didn’t even think of the tax before and not he doesn’t want to look like a fool wishing he just sold it instead, no body just accepts having to pay up to $13,000 in taxes

  41. Cashykingmitch says:

    That bill is a night out for Derek……………………….

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