If you're lucky enough to have a Super Bowl XLI ticket in hand, treat it like gold and hope that a ticket collector one day comes knocking. Several years ago, a collector paid a record $19,922 for a nearly perfect 1968 Super Bowl ticket. A well-preserved 1978 ticket went for $16,464 during the same auction. And, more recently, a full set of 40 tickets sold for about $100,000.
"If you're going to buy a ticket, you can recoup a lot of the cost -- if not all of it -- by preserving the ticket, having it graded and then selling it to a collector," said Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator in Newport Beach.
Few tickets from past Super Bowls survive game day in pristine condition, because NFL ushers continue to separate game tickets from stubs. Though stubs are considered to be collectibles, hard-core fans are paying a premium for unblemished tickets that appear to have been unused.
They're hard, but not impossible, to find, according to Ben Friedman, a 41-year-old Bedford, N.Y., resident who owns one of the highest-rated collections to have been authenticated by Orlando's firm: "They usually come from someone who didn't attend the game, or a VIP who got through security unchallenged because they were with a team owner."