There appears to be a happy ending in the saga surrounding the gloves that Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph wore when he made the game-winning catch in the team’s wild-card win Sunday over the New Orleans Saints and thought he was donating to charity.
As of Thursday, they had brought in nearly $14,000 for the M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, one of Rudolph’s favorite charities.
That’s mostly because of Jason King, a die-hard Vikings fan from New Jersey. He bought the gloves on eBay and later learned that Rudolph had been duped into handing the white gloves over to someone who was in the team’s locker room, claiming they were for a charitable event. The person instead put them up for sale online.
“I felt I had to reach out to Rudy and make it right,” King said Thursday.
King took precautions not to be tricked before he bought the gloves for $375 on eBay. He carefully examined photos of the gloves on the auction site and compared them with those posted on Getty Images to be sure they were authentic.
“There are so many scam artists that try to sell stuff that is not game-used,” King said. “I saw the string on the middle finger of the glove to verify they were real, and I jumped online and bought them.”
Shortly after King’s purchase about 2 p.m. Wednesday, social media was abuzz with the news about how Rudolph’s gloves made it to the online auction site instead of charity.
King said a friend from a Vikings memorabilia Facebook group spoke with Rudolph and learned how the gloves might have ended up in the wrong hands. The locker room was teeming with reporters after the Vikings’ thrilling 26-20 overtime win, and someone in the room apparently asked Rudolph for his gloves.
“I’d never seen [the person who asked for the gloves] before,” Rudolph said Thursday. “It’s obviously nobody we see here on a daily basis and nobody on the national scene because I would’ve recognized them. … He came over and said, ‘Hey, can I have your gloves for a charity event?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely, I’ll even sign them for you.’ So I did, I signed them for him, I gave them to him and didn’t think anything of it. Then yesterday somebody sent me a screenshot of the eBay link, and there they were.”
Then he deadpanned, “I was disappointed he only tried to get $375 for them. He could’ve probably got way more than that.”
King, 34, who said he has been a Vikings fan since he opened his first pack of football cards when he was 2, thought he had added Rudolph’s gloves to his extensive collection of Vikings gear, which includes an Adrian Peterson game-worn jersey plus jerseys worn by Stefon Diggs and Danielle Hunter.
But he knew he could not let things slide. He decided to donate the gloves to charity.
“Hopefully I can help turn this into a good situation and help raise some money for the children’s hospital,” King wrote on Twitter.
Rudolph replied, “Hey Jason, really cool of you to do this! @UMNChildrens will greatly appreciate it.”
King turned the donations over to University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, said Nick Engbloom, director of community partnerships for the hospital.
“Football fans rally behind cool causes and initiatives,” Engbloom said.
The money will be used to pay for supplies and programs in Kyle Rudolph’s End Zone, a play space at the hospital for patients and their families.
On Friday night, King tweeted that he has received the gloves. King and Engbloom said there is talk that King will come to Minnesota to meet Rudolph and give him the gloves to put on display in the End Zone.
As a special gesture, Rudolph promised to give King the gloves he’ll wear Saturday in the Vikings game at San Francisco.
This is not the first time Vikings fans and even those of other teams have rallied for a cause. Two years ago, fans donated $221,000 to injured punter Thomas Morstead’s foundation after he was the first Saints player to return to the field for a meaningless extra point after the “Minneapolis Miracle.” The pass play gave the Vikings a playoff win over the Saints on the game’s last play. Morstead gave the money to Children’s Minnesota.
Now benevolent fans are stepping up again.
“I never anticipated it to jump like this,” King said. “The outpouring of fans, even those of other teams, donating money and saying they are Vikings fans for the playoffs — it’s awesome.”
Staff writer Ben Goessling contributed to this report.