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The Tonya Harding Collectible That Went For Hundreds On Pawn Stars

It's easy to forget that black holes were once sources of light. For the most part, they are the dense carcasses of stars that died in spectacular explosions (via Nasa). In 2016, "Pawn Stars" reminded us that something similar could be said of Tonya Harding's once blindingly bright figure skating career. The Season 13 episode "Triple Axel Pawn" featured a blast from Harding's sports-star past (via History).

As the episode title seemingly alludes, Harding's mastery of the triple axel helped her turn in historic performances on the ice in the '90s. ESPN points out that in 1991, she became the first American woman ever to execute the spinning jump during competition and the first on Earth ever to do it twice in the same contest. But her fame would be swallowed by infamy in the lead-up to the 1994 Winter Olympics thanks to an explosive scandal that inspired 2017's "I, Tonya," in which Margot Robbie portrayed Harding.

Per the Detroit Free Press, Harding's archrival Nancy Kerrigan had been viewed as a shoo-in to skate her way to a gold medal at the Winter Games. But as Biography explains, in a plot that Harding allegedly had no part in, ex-husband Jeff Gillooly enlisted three men, including Harding's bodyguard, to cut Kerrigan off at the knees, specifically the right knee. Just before the 1994 U.S. National Championships, hatchet man Shane Stant bashed Kerrigan's knee with a nearly two-foot-long metal baton, forcing her to withdraw from the competition.

By hook, crook, and baton, Gillooly cleared a path to victory for his ex-wife, who won the national championships and secured a spot on the Olympic team. A rare collectible related to the drama-fraught Winter Games made its way to Rick Harrison's World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop roughly 22 years later.

Rick drives a Harding bargain

Per a clip compilation posted by the "Pawn Stars” YouTube channel, a seller named Noreana brought in a banged-up box of Wheaties autographed by Tonya Harding, who was also pictured on the package raising a triumphant fist. The box belonged to Noreana's mother, whose friend had apparently lived with Harding. Through that latter affiliation, Noreana obtained four photos of the skater as well as Jeff Gillooly's chaperone badge from the 1992 World Figure Skating Championships.

Noreana thought the collection of Harding memorabilia was "cool to have" but figured it would "be even cooler" to get $500 for it. Feeling iffy about the asking price, Rick picked the brain of a sports memorabilia expert who said that "maybe about a half-dozen" Harding Wheaties boxes had probably been made in case the skater lived up to the brand's "breakfast of champions" label at the Olympics. But it proved to be a Winter Games of discontent for Harding, who finished in eighth place while Nancy Kerrigan not only competed but clinched a silver medal. Although Harding steadfastly denied all involvement in planning the attack on Kerrigan, in the weeks following the Olympics she pleaded guilty to "conspiracy to hinder prosecution." She got stripped of her U.S. national title and banned for life by the United States Figure Skating Association (via Biography).

What would Rick pay for a box of Tonya Harding's unrealized dreams? Not $500. The expert gave a ballpark valuation of 150 bucks for the box and another $50 for the badge, putting the total at $200. That was the highest Rick was willing to go. Noreana took the offer, but maybe her mother took the money.