By: Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Michael Jordan may be the most famous person to wear a No. 23 basketball jersey, but former President Barack Obama could be a close second.
A basketball jersey believed to have been worn by the former president while he attended a Hawaii prep school sold at an auction for $120,000 Saturday night, according to Heritage Auctions. The final selling price includes a buyer’s premium, the Dallas-based auction house said.
The buyer of the jersey requested anonymity, according to Heritage Auctions officials.
The sale was part of Heritage Auctions two-day Summer Platinum Night Auction. The top sale of the night was for a 1937 Lou Gehrig flannel road uniform, which fetched $2.58 million, according to Sports Collectors Daily.
The Obama jersey was worn by the future president when he played for Punahou School in Honolulu, according to Heritage Auctions. Obama was a member of the 1979 squad that won the state title that season.
It was rescued by Peter Noble, a Punahou player who was three years behind Obama, Heritage Auctions officials said in the jersey’s auction description. Noble, 55, told the auction house he wore No. 23 while playing for Punahou’s junior varsity team and saw the jersey being discarded when a new shipment of jerseys arrived for the school.
“I took it because they were getting rid of it,” Noble, of Seattle, told The Associated Press. “It meant nothing else, really.”
It meant more when Obama was elected president in 2008.
“I got to thinking: Is there an opportunity to do something, perhaps good?” Noble told the AP. “Perhaps have this a see a bigger, broader light of day than sitting in my closet.”
Noble consigned the jersey to Heritage Auctions, which photo-matched the jersey to Page 104 of the 1979 Punahou school yearbook. “Barry Obama goes up for a basket against St. Louis,” the photo caption read.
Punahou spokesman Robert Gelber told the AP the school is “enormously proud” of Obama, but he could not confirm the authenticity of the jersey.
According to Heritage Auctions, the jersey came with a letter of provenance from Noble and his 1979 Punahou yearbook.
Noble told the AP he would donate a portion of the auction proceeds to his alma mater but joked he wished he had grabbed jersey No. 5 years ago. That belonged to Darryl Gabriel, the player who starred on Punahou’s team. Obama was a role player for Punahou and spent a good portion of his high school varsity career on the bench.
“In hindsight, I wish I had grabbed No. 5 because it was Darryl Gabriel and Darryl Gabriel was my favorite player,” Noble told the AP.