Fan Who Gave Away Derek Jeter’s 3,000th Hit Baseball Gets Tax Help and Yankees Ring Bling

July 14, 2011

A roster of designated hitters lined up yesterday to help Yanks fan Christian Lopez pay off his student loans - and any taxes tied to his handoff of Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit.

"I'm speechless," Lopez said of the outpouring of generosity.

Modell's Sporting Goods and Steiner Sports Memorabilia vowed to pitch in for the 23-year-old Verizon customer rep after learning he has $150,000 in student loans and faces up to $15,000 in taxes for the historic haul.

"He was all about, 'My job is to support the Yankees,'" Modell's President Mitchell Modell said. "But someone's got to think about Christian."

Modell even tossed in some bling - giving Lopez his Yankees-issued 2009 World Series ring, valued at $40,000.

And to top it off, Topps said Lopez will get his own baseball card next season because he embodies the "essence of what baseball is about."

"I don't even know if there's a cloud name for what I'm on right now," said Lopez, decked out in a DJ3K T-shirt during an event at the Times Square Modell's.

Lopez popped onto the tax man's radar by scoring four luxury seats for every home game and a stash of Jeter-signed memorabilia as a Yanks' thank-you for giving the ball back - a $70,000 bounty the IRS could tax at market value.

To make sure Lopez didn't wind up in the red for of his act of generosity - the ball could have gone for $250,000 at auction - Modell announced "Christian Lopez Week at Modell's."

Modell said Lopez would receive 5% of all Yankees merchandise sold through next Tuesday - a payout guaranteed to be at least $25,000.

Brandon Steiner, the head of Steiner Sports, also pledged $25,000 to Lopez.

While tax pros say the IRS could view the season tickets Lopez scored from the Yankees as a payoff for Jeter's ball, he has no such worries about the gifts lavished on him yesterday.

This year, there is a $5 million exemption on taxable gifts.

Lopez says the hullabaloo surrounding him since catching Jeter's home run Saturday has been "overwhelming," but he has no regrets about handing the ball to the Captain.

"I did it because he deserved it," he said.




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