Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Seattle man sells grubby old NES cartridge for $13,000

Photo: GamesMaster Magazine (Getty Images)

Earlier this week, a guy walked into a Seattle video game store with a sack full of original Nintendo (NES) cartridges. Presumably tired of playing a selection of old, boring games that, according to an Ars Technica article, included stuff like California Games and Rush’N Attack, he presented retro shop Pink Gorilla’s co-owners with a pile of unassuming, unboxed items. Among this collection was the prize given out to participants of the 1990 Nintendo World Championship—a cartridge with demo versions of several Nintendo games on it. Though that might not seem like anything important to most of us, it was worth $13,000 entire American dollars.

The full write-up by Ars Technica’s Sam Machkovech helps explain why the cartridge is so valued and how the sale went down. With “fewer than 200 in the world,” Pink Gorilla co-owners Cody Spencer and Kelsey Lewin had to verify the game’s internal chips to gauge its age and history. The seller apparently had no idea that the cartridge was so valuable and only said that he was a collector. Spencer and Lewin guess that it was picked up “at a random garage sale” or thrift shop.

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Considering that the seller didn’t know what he had, Spencer says his shop “could’ve gotten that [cartridge] for, like, 20 bucks. Or a dollar!” Instead, they cut him a check that matched the game’s going rate: $13,000.

The full article has more details on the sale—and the re-sale to another buyer within 24 hours of Pink Gorilla first acquiring the cartridge. But, really, the lesson is clear enough as it is: No matter what Hoarders or personal finance experts may say, the best savings plan available is buying every piece of old junk you can find and holding onto it all for as long as possible.

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.