Aaron Judge made history this week when he hit his 62nd home run, breaking the American League record for most home runs in a season.
One lucky fan, Dallas-based Cory Youmans, happened to catch the ball, and in doing so, gained a pricy piece of memorabilia.
Sports Illustrated estimated that the ball is worth around $2 million, which could end up costing Youmans a fortune via a hefty tax payout, should he decide to sell.
A similar issue arose in 1998 when it was anticipated that Mark McGwire was set to break the same record, prompting the IRS to release a statement claiming that whoever caught the ball would be taxed, regardless of what they did with it.
The statement was retracted after anger from fans and legislators but maintained that if the catcher returned the ball immediately, there would be no consequences.
It remained (and still remains) murky as to what the other options for the lucky catcher would be. A team will sometimes offer someone who catches an important ball a trade for other memorabilia, like signed jerseys and game-used balls.
As it stands, there is no official rule with the IRS as to whether or not fly balls or catching a fly ball is deemed a taxable event, so in the event that Youmans decides to hold on to the ball without intent to sell, he most likely won’t have to pay taxes on it.
Should he decide to sell it, however, it might play out a bit differently.
If Youmans sells the ball for the estimated $2 million, it could put him and his wife (Sports Illustrated reporter and former Bachelor contestant Bri Amaranthus) in the maximum tax bracket (37%), depending on other factors such as their annual income and deductions.
It also depends on how long Youmans keeps the ball before he decides to sell it.
Since the ball and game have such historic significance, it would be considered a “collectible” in the eyes of the IRS, which would give it a higher-than-normal capital gains tax rate of 28%, according to H&R Block chief tax officer Kathy Pickering.
Still, it remains unclear what Youmans will decide to do.
— Joe Trahan (@JoeTrahan) October 5, 2022
When reporters asked him what he planned to do with the ball after the historic catch, he quickly quipped “that’s a good question, I haven’t thought about it.”
Reporters then asked him if he was going to give it back to [Aaron] before he walked off, which of course would be another option as to what Youmans could decide to do with the ball.
Let’s just hope he gives Judge a fair price.