Yes, Johnson raced every Sunday for most of the year and made a significant amount of money in the process. But Johnson could easily relate to the fans who collected memorabilia and official gear because he did the exact same thing in his spare time.
Jimmie Johnson has a massive memorabilia collection
Jimmie Johnson’s days as a full-time Cup Series driver appear to be over.
Johnson will always have reminders of his successful racing career, though. The seven-time Cup Series champion built a man cave containing gear and memorabilia from over 20 years of racing.
If you name something that Johnson used in his career, he probably still has it. Helmets? He still has them. Firesuits? Johnson has more than enough to hold him over for the rest of his life.
Jimmie Johnson started collecting during his career
Every Sunday during the Cup Series season, Jimmie Johnson devoted his time and energy to racing and trying to win.
That mentality is why Johnson left the Cup Series with seven titles and 83 overall victories. But once he stepped out of the car, Johnson spent time collecting his own gear.
In a 2013 interview with USA Today, Johnson explained how he went about preserving his equipment.
“I do have samples from all the trinkets and diecasts and all that stuff that’s made, but that’s more of a formality than something I’m really passionate about. But helmets I’m definitely passionate about and hang onto them and trade them occasionally. And then I have a great archive of all of my suits.”
At the time, Johnson didn’t have everything on display or neatly framed — and that didn’t bother him.
“The warehouse I have, it’s just a big room and they’re all cataloged in there,” Johnson said. “It’s pretty cool.”
Johnson isn’t the only athlete who doubled as a collector
Jimmie Johnson is far from the first athlete to be a collector, and he certainly won’t be the last.
Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson showed Oprah Winfrey his man cave in 2013. Johnson had his championship rings and awards on display in his home.
Johnson also had basketballs celebrating his achievements and awards in a trophy case. One ball, for example, celebrated the 138 triple-doubles that Johnson had in the regular season.
Former NFL offensive lineman Evan Mathis dabbled as a trading card collector. In 2018, Mathis sold a Mickey Mantle trading card from 1952 for $2.88 million.
Longtime MLB first baseman Dmitri Young is also a trading card collector. According to Sports Collectors Daily, Young made over $2.4 million in selling rookie cards of several baseball legends, including Stan Musial and Derek Jeter.
Young said at the time that he intended to use that money to help children.