Phony JJ Watt autograph used on charity raffle item

Thursday, March 01, 2018 10:29PM
ABC13's Jessica Willey looks into how a phony J.J. Watt autograph wound up inscribed on a charity item.


HOUSTON, Texas - A Texas charity for families with children with cancer is "beyond embarrassed" by what Houston Texans superstar J.J. Watt spotted on social media.

Watt himself saw a fake signature on a team football in a photograph a man posted on Twitter on Thursday afternoon. To which Watt responded, "Man, whoever faked my signature on that ball didn't even know how to spell my name!"

There is no "s" in Watt.

"Oh my god. Well, at least it's easily identifiable as a fraud," said Todd Nelkin, whose family owns HLT&T Sports, a wholesale sports collectibles business.

The football was used a raffle item at an annual golf tournament benefiting Heroes for Children. On its website, the organization says it has provided $5.5 million to more than 5,000 families in need since 2004. It responded with this statement.

"It is Heroes for Children's mission to help families who have a child battling cancer in the state of Texas, and we would never want to do anything to compromise that. Today we hosted our annual golf tournament in Houston. A donor of Heroes for Children donated 2 footballs and a baseball to be used as a raffle to benefit our organization at the event. It has been brought to our attention that these were not authentic items, and we are beyond embarrassed and disappointed to have misrepresented their authenticity. We are refunding the donation and will return the items appropriately. In the future, we will go through the proper steps to ensure authenticity."

"I would venture to say out on the streets of Houston about 40 percent is not legitimate," Nelkin said. "You can't blame the charity at all for this. The person who donated the ball may not have known. Overall the charity is a victim here."

Nelkin advises consumers to "know your source" and look for holograms or serial numbers to authenticate items. In the same Twitter post, Watt offered to send a properly signed ball.

"We can't have people doing charity like that," Watt wrote, earning even more praise from many of his 5 million followers and fans.

The man who tweeted out the picture, Shane Allbright, told Eyewitness News he purchased five raffle tickets for a chance to win the ball. Allbright said Watt retweeted him and sent him a direct message, promising to send a new ball.

"J.J. Watt took a negative moment and turned it into a positive moment. He's a real standup dude to reach out to me and I respect him for that," Allbright told ABC13. "J.J. Watt is super nice and it's just a crazy moment."

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