The average American has just over $35,000 saved for retirement. Missouri Democrat Lucas Kunce holds considerably more than that in wizard and goblin-themed trading cards.
Kunce, who is running to unseat Sen. Josh Hawley (R,. Mo.), has not hidden his devotion for the fantasy-themed tabletop game Magic: The Gathering. But his dedication to the game could also serve as a lucrative investment. A Washington Free Beacon review determined that Kunce’s Magic: The Gathering collection could be worth $50,000, although the true figure is likely much higher. Kunce owns two items that retail for up to $25,000 each, as well as individual cards with asking prices of $2,000.
These magical investments could hurt Kunce’s chances of connecting with voters in deep-red Missouri. Kunce, a left-wing populist who was a cheerleader at Yale University and graduated from Columbia Law School, has struggled with authenticity throughout his longshot Senate bid. Shortly after Kunce announced his second campaign for Senate in February, a leading linguistics professor raised doubts about the legitimacy of his southern drawl.
Magic: The Gathering pits two players—powerful wizards called planeswalkers—against each other in a duel, wherein players summon magical creatures and cast spells until one player loses their health points. To gain a competitive advantage, Magic: The Gathering players often build massive collections of cards, which are marketed for users ages 13 and up.
The entire value of Kunce’s collection is hard to appraise, but one expert estimated it is in the tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. On social media, Kunce has shared images of individual cards worth upwards of $2,000 each. Kunce also prominently displays a framed, uncut sheet set of original Magic: The Gathering cards from 1994 in his office.
That uncut sheet sells for as much as $25,000, according to Magic: The Gathering expert Jason Alt.
“These are the cards of someone with a lot of fondness for the very early days with either the money to splurge on a nice collector item or the foresight to get it early and protect it,” said Alt, who has been writing about Magic: The Gathering for over a decade, adding that “it’s actually sort of difficult to judge something that rare and expensive.”
The total value of the individual cards Kunce has posted on social media are worth around $5,000, according to a review of online markets. His “decks”—collections of various Magic: The Gathering card series—are worth in the thousands as well. One deck Kunce hinted towards owning on social media, the Commander Deck, could fetch $1,000, according to Alt, who hosts a Magic: The Gathering themed-podcast “Brainstorm Brewery.”
Kunce’s campaign did not deny the estimated value of the Democrat’s collection but emphasized his lifelong commitment to the fantasy card game.
“Lucas bought most of his cards for nickels as a kid in Missouri and has been trading them ever since. Whatever his collection is worth now, his heart still breaks that he had to sell his Alpha Ancestral Recall in 2006 when his car died,” a spokesman for Kunce said. “You could say he’s a lifetime Magic: The Gathering fan, even playing the game while serving in the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Kunce revealed he owns another uncut sheet earlier this month. That uncut sheet, according to Magic: The Gathering Rocks, is “not from Alpha, Beta, or Unlimited but does possess white-bordered Dual Lands. These are largely considered the best lands in the game and are also a huge indicator of a big MTG fan.” Complete sets of white-bordered Dual Land cards, which are less valuable than uncut sheets, sell for as much as $5,200 on eBay.
“The collection appears valuable … the uncut Revised sheet implies either a decent bankroll or … someone who secured the sheet for cheap or as a prize back in the day and did a good job keeping it looking nice,” Alt said.
According to Time, Kunce, 40, has made Magic: The Gathering an “integral part of [his] life for three decades,” and has recently been competing against other players online. During an interview with the magazine, Kunce knocked Hawley for being “completely netdecked,” an apparent reference to a Magic: The Gathering strategy.
Kunce’s card collection has made him a minor celebrity in the Magic: The Gathering community.
“Since a lot of people are asking…I’m Arena only with the newer cards so my commander decks are a bit dated. But when not playing Phelddagrif, it’s Tetuo all the way!” Kunce tweeted earlier this month.
The Free Beacon was unable to decipher the meaning of his tweet.
One competitive Magic: The Gathering player who spoke with the Free Beacon on condition of anonymity was floored by the value of Kunce’s cards, although jabbed that the collection “definitely points to a collector more than a serious competitive player. Most of their value really just is as a collector’s item or an investment.”