The Time I Pretended I Was Jake Delhomme's Son (Plus How to Find the Next Big Thing)

I got into the locker room. I was looking for my long-lost dad, Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme.

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About Lucky Maverick

About Jonathan Bales

Note: This first story is just for fun. Skip to the next section for anything useful whatsoever.

My Brief Time as Jake Delhomme’s Son

In 2009, my cousin Nick and I flew down to Dallas to see a Monday Night Football game between the Cowboys and Carolina Panthers. It was an awesome time and Nick and I, both of whom showed up already wasted, proceeded to double-fist beers throughout the entirety of the game. We stocked up in the third quarter before they stopped selling alcohol for the night, and by the time the game ended with a 21-7 Cowboys victory, we were absolutely annihilated. I mean not like in an unsafe way, but more in the way that you might like, I don’t knowwwwwww, throw a hot dog into the lower level of the stadium on a dare, but still sober enough to not put condiments all over it because hey I’m a thoughtful guy okay?

So the game was ending and we got up to leave but instead chose not to leave at all and just began exploring the stadium. We got into some areas we weren’t supposed to be in, but nothing too crazy, before finding this sort of hidden stairwell.

“Hey, let’s see what’s at the bottom,” I said with not even the slightest reservation about the idea.

So we walked down like 20 flights of stairs to the bottom and I opened this door, peeking out to see the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders marching toward us down the hall.

Now we’re talking. I grabbed Nick and we walked into the tunnel. I don’t know what the penalties are for trespassing but at that point they probably would have needed to approach life in prison without the possibility of parole for me to turn around.

As the cheerleaders paraded toward us, I tried to think of something clever to say but instead just like kind of nodded. I don’t know, it’s kind of fuzzy but I remember trying to play it cool, so I’m pretty sure my head actually moved an imperceptibly small amount and instead I just looked like a total creep staring straight at these girls’ pom-poms (if you know what I mean) while double-fisting Miller Lite in a Tashard Choice jersey.

“Oooh, he’s cute!” one of the girls with poor judgement said, looking my way.

Holy shit. This is your time, man. A Cowboys cheerleader and you, a blogger. Don’t blow it. Say something she won’t forget. And, indeed, I said something she would not forget.

“What’s your name-ber?” I asked.

What the fuck? What’s your NAME-BER? A Cowboys cheerleader was basically screaming for me to talk to her and I asked for her NAME-BER. I assume my drunk ass just mixed ‘name’ and ‘number,’ but there’s also a chance I actually thought this through and, given the lack of time I had to work with, decided “name-ber” would be the most efficient way possible to get all the relevant info I needed.

Hey girl, in a hurry and gotta run to blog about the game, what’s your name-ber?

Anyway, the girls laughed. I like to think we were all laughing together, like old friends, but something tells me we weren’t. I think it was the Tashard Choice jersey. Knew I should have gone with Felix Jones.

So the chuckling ceased and there was a moment of silence (R.I.P. my pride) and then the most unexpected response possible happened: she gave me her name and number. Damnnnnnnnnn, son. That shit works. Name-ber. Don’t knock it till you try it I guess.

Let me pause to say this is already a great story. Kudos to me. If it ended there, I’d say it’s like a 7.5 or 8 out of 10.

But it didn’t end there.

So I got the digits and obviously I’m riding high. I mean all of the cheerleaders are beautiful but I’d say this one was easily in the top 25%, or actually she was probably the prettiest one on the squad in case you’re reading this, [name redacted].

Feeling invincible, I was strutting around the tunnels of the stadium like I was Jerry fucking Jones. Soon after I got the number, we saw a few Panthers players walking around, then a few more until I realized we were just outside of the visiting team’s locker room.

“Let’s go into the locker room to see Jake,” I said to my cousin, whose favorite NFL player was inexplicably mediocre Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme (this isn’t a joke…we grew up in Philly and he loved watching Jake Delhomme). He nervously agreed.

I love to sneak into places—it’s one of my favorite pastimes—and if you know anything about being somewhere you aren’t supposed to be, you know you need to really sell that you’re either supposed to be there or that you didn’t know you couldn’t be there. I find the latter to be optimal in most situations, but for some reason (beer), in this particular situation, I went with the former.

We walked super confidently toward the locker room entrance and just before reaching the door got stopped by general security for the stadium.

“Where are you guys headed?”

You’d think I’d already have the answer to this sorted out, but given I wasn’t exactly running at peak efficiency, I was forced to think on my feet.

“We’re Jake’s sons.”

I told the stadium security that Jake Delhomme, at age 34 to my 24 when the game was played, was my DAD.

Think about this scene: I’m holding not one but two beers, wearing a fucking COWBOYS jersey, and claiming the opposing team’s quarterback—who was minutes removed from throwing two interceptions in a loss that night—became our father when he was 10.

Naturally, he let us in.

Obviously I never considered the possibility we’d actually get inside the visitor’s locker room to see our long lost dad, so I didn’t have much prepared. It didn’t matter since a member of the Panthers immediately approached us and said (very loudly and without much hospitality, I might add), “Who the fuck are you?”

I didn’t even need to say anything before the initial security guard, who was trailing just behind, spoke up. I figured the gig was up, but instead he yelled out:

“They’re Jake’s sons!”

LOL, they’re Jake’s sons. The guy stood up for us with just an all-time line, and he did it with confidence—like he had vetted us for three hours prior and was convinced these drunk assholes were the opposing quarterback’s children.

At this point, the things that should have happened began happening. “Get them the FUCK out of here!” A team to escort us out (no arrests!). A quick chug of one of my beers before they grabbed the other. Yada yada yada.

So that’s the time I got a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader’s number and subsequently thrown out of Cowboys Stadium simply for trying to visit my father, former Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that I never really told anyone this story and I just wanted to tell it. And the other point is that sometimes, you just have to take a risk.

And if you’re wondering, yes, I did meet up with the cheerleader that night. And yes, the date did end quickly after I became too competitive during the Skee-Ball portion of the evening.

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How to Find the Next Big Thing

Over the past decade, I’ve worked primarily in sports gambling and have mostly made money in unconventional ways: crypto, DFS, push-up bets, etc. Gamblers pride themselves on finding edges, one of which—maybe the biggest—is to uncover opportunities before others: to be first. When it comes to all forms of alternative investing, identifying which trends/industries will grow—and doing it before most others—is a pivotal part of success.

A few weeks ago, my buddies and I lost an auction for the most famous sports card ever:

There were a few reasons I liked this card. Some of those:

  • As a vintage card, there’s guaranteed scarcity; it can’t be reproduced.

  • In many ways, sports cards are new-age art, which I believe, along with another type of art I’ll discuss in a bit, will be collected more so than traditional fine art as younger generations get money.

  • Of the few dozen known Honus Wagner cards, I think a large portion will never be up for sale (some are in museums, some owned by ultra-rich who don’t need an extra $1mm, etc.). The actual number of cards available is very low.

  • High-end alternative assets could explode with the growth of fractional investing.

  • It would just be cool af to own a Honus Wagner.

Anyway, as we were discussing the merits of owning the card, I found a couple aspects of the investment to be interesting.

First, I was probably never going to see the card. It was to be placed in a vault and, hopefully, never touched again until sold. I recently met up with one of my good friends and entrepreneur Jeremy Levine (he founded StarStreet, DRAFT, and now Underdog), and he has jumped head-first into sports card investing. He also mentioned he never actually sees any of the cards; he has them sent thousands of miles away where someone else handles them. In that way, what we’re looking for isn’t really a piece of cardboard, but something even less tangible: provable ownership of a scarce asset.

Second, as we discussed going in together to buy the card, I mentioned that I think the price of high-end assets like this could really soar in the coming years with the growth of fractional investing. Sites like Masterworks, Rally Rd., Otis, Collectable, and so on let people buy and sell shares of high-end alternative assets like art, cars, wine, etc. EmpireMaker—one of the top DFS players and one of four of us trying to win the Honus card—questioned “Who the hell would want to own a fraction of a card?” to which a friend of ours who was also in on the deal responded, “literally us, right now.”

In the gambling world, we are used to chopping things up all the time; we swap equity in big tournaments, go into investments like this together, etc. But the reality is that, until recently, this wasn’t really an option for most people.

Now it is.

A lot of smart people are seeing the bright future of alternative investing.

My background is in DFS/betting, but I’ve been known to dabble in trading cryptocurrencies. My company FantasyLabs made a push to get into esports after bringing on Mark Cuban as our lone investor; we ultimately decided there were better opportunities for us given we knew fucking nothing about video games but had lots of upside (and work to do) in continuing to build tools in DFS.

Recently, I bid on a piece of digital art that went for record-setting numbers. There’s a great explanation of the story behind this piece here.

I’m completely willing to admit this might be the biggest blunder of my life, but I think the future of art is digital. Not only should ownership of actual physical paintings be tokenized—fraud is a big problem!—but there are a variety of benefits of art that exists solely digitally as compared to physical art (the collector/artist relationship can shift and even become aligned, the art itself can change over time, you can quickly buy/sell without storing it, ownership/prices are transparent, and so on). I’ll get into these in another article because I have a bunch of thoughts.

The concept of digital art and similar areas are so new, which is what is attractive to me. Could I be the dumbest motherfucker on the planet? Perhaps. But I think the idea of people buying internet money a decade ago probably looked pretty dumb as well. To me, it’s a smart gamble because the potential payoffs are unbelievable. The fact that there’s a movement toward things similar to digital art—and digital art itself over the past 6-12 months—and my natural inclination is to dismiss it should be even more reason to be bullish, similar to the idea of Bitcoin years ago, as people initially writing it off is what allows for the big payoffs that accompany being first.

A lot of these new concepts will look ridiculous at first. As Chris Dixon has written, the next big thing will start out looking like a toy (h/t Ezra Galston, who linked to this post in his blog, which I recommend):

The reason big new things sneak by incumbents is that the next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a “toy.”  This is one of the main insights of Clay Christensen’s “disruptive technology” theory. This theory starts with the observation that technologies tend to get better at a faster rate than users’ needs increase. From this simple insight follows all kinds of interesting conclusions about how markets and products change over time.

Trading cards might very well become a stock market for athletes. What was once play—kids trading physical sports cards with friends—could transform into something completely different.

When you start to go down this rabbit hole, you inevitably end up asking “Why does this thing need to exist in the physical world at all to have value?”

As I examined the sorts of areas to which I’ve gravitated from an investment standpoint, I noticed a trend. Digital art, cryptocurrency, eSports, trading cards—they’re all a continuation of this inevitable trend of moving the physical world online.

And if you notice, they’re all widely rejected by older generations but overwhelmingly accepted by younger ones. I remember learning how much money kids spent on digital items in video games and thinking it was so stupid, but why? It’s so easy to write off what’s different or what we don’t naturally understand as silly, but it’s exactly those things we don’t naturally understand or agree with—yet are popular—that we should spend the most time figuring out.

And so, when it comes to finding the next big thing, I think you’re on the right track if you’re asking these questions:

1.      What are kids (high school/college-age) interested in?

2.      Which things that exist physically will move digital?

3.      How will the democratization of ownership change the investment landscape?

When you add all this shit together, you end up trying to pay six figures for a jpg of Vitalik Buterin.

But really, I think this trend of physical to digital and democratization of ownership will lead to a lot of really cool opportunities, specifically in fractional investing, alternative assets, and the combination of the two. Places like—a new marketplace for sports card trading—will continue to pop up and redefine what it means to collect, own, and invest, breaking down barriers to entry as well as a lack of both liquidity and transparency. My guess is that either they or someone else will eventually do this with blockchain.

The future is digital. Look to youth and find ways they’re transforming age-old concepts like money (crypto) or athletics (eSports) in a digital world. The best combination of these ideas right now, in my opinion, is fractional investing of alternative assets.