Panini America offered boxes of 2018-19 Contenders Draft Picks basketball through its First Off The Line program Thursday morning and the result was a frustrating experience for those who tried to buy the product featuring the hottest NBA prospect in years.
The possibility of Zion Williamson cards made Contenders a big draw, with Panini limiting orders to one box per customer. Blowout Cards announced that they were willing to pay $300 per box–$170 above retail cost–to anyone who could land a box, creating an instant and profitable buy and flip opportunity. Others hoped to buy and re-sell themselves for an even bigger profit while some were no doubt hoping to open the box and land a Williamson among the six autographed cards inside.
Apparently, word got around.
Minutes before the product was scheduled to go live at 10 AM Central time, Panini’s website began to experience problems because of the heavy traffic, stalling for some and crashing completely as 10 AM arrived.
Others who were able to access the page where the Contenders boxes were offered and clicked “Add to Cart” saw the product removed once they tried to enter the payment portal.
PaniniAmerica.net website eventually went offline. Later, the company later posted a message on the product page:
“Overwhelming demand for this product caused our servers to crash and we are temporarily postponing the release of Contenders Draft Picks Collegiate Basketball. We apologize for the inconvenience. We will relist this product soon and will provide everyone with a 24-hour notice prior to launch.”
A few boxes are currently listed on eBay.
It’s not known how many boxes of Contenders Draft Picks FOTL were scheduled to be made available through the FOTL platform.
The product, which promises six autographs per box, is scheduled for national release on September 4.
Williamson has only a small number of cards so far, all of them college-oriented and released as part of promotions during the National Sports Collectors Convention. They’ve been big sellers on eBay.
The first cards showing him in an NBA uniform will be in Hoops, scheduled for release in October.