An NFL Hall of Famer and his valuable sweater. heritage auctions / US Military Academy

This past June, Seattle native Sean "Prawn" McEvoy bought an old sweater from a Goodwill in Asheville, North Carolina, for 58 cents. It had "West Point" stitched across the front, and there were holes. Sean (who sang for the defunct, beloved, highly flammable Seattle punk band Tit Pig) and his wife, Rikki, run a business buying and selling vintage clothes called Roslyn VTG Trading Co., so they're always scouring the bins. A few months after the purchase, McEvoy was watching a Vince Lombardi documentary at his home in Knoxville, Tennessee, and noticed the famed Green Bay football coach wearing the same type of sweater. He then looked closer at his 58-cent find and saw "Lombardi" written on a tag inside. After a few phone calls and a trip to Dallas, McEvoy confirmed Lombardi had indeed owned the sweater when he coached at West Point between 1949 and 1953. Lombardi went on to be head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, leading the team to five NFL championships. Since 1970, teams that win the Super Bowl are awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Last week, the sweater sold out of Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, to an anonymous phone bidder for $43,020. Sean spoke from Knoxville.

Start at the top with the sweater story. Why were you in Asheville?

It was the end of the day. Knoxville doesn't have such great restaurants. But Asheville—it's like Portland, Oregon, and about an hour and a half from here. We go there to get a slice of home. There are Goodwill bins there, but usually they're not very good. It was about 4 p.m., and all the pickers had gone home. No one was really looking for anything. That sweater was sitting on top, and I thought, "Oh, this looks cool." I thought it was a basketball warm-up. So it had been sitting in a pile for a couple months—I got it in June—and in November, I saw a picture of Vince Lombardi wearing it in a documentary I was watching. My wife said, "Well, there's a tag in the sweater you bought. We should look." It was a sewn-in label, like from the team. And sure enough, it had his name written on a piece of herringbone weave. Without that tag, the sweater is worth maybe $100 tops. But just that little tag made that sweater worth $40,000.

What are the chances?

It was probably going to get ground up and turned into a rag. Goodwill sends stuff to get processed into rags daily. I got lucky. If you think about how many pieces of American history like that are getting destroyed and thrown away like garbage, that's what's crazy. Think about what Michael Jordan has thrown away in his lifetime. How many pairs of shoes and shirts do you think Michael Jordan has gotten rid of? I might just start hanging out by his dumpster [laughs]. Imagine what his stuff is going to be worth in 20 years.

You could fetch top dollar for the sweat-soaked jockstrap Jordan wore when he had the flu during that 1997 finals game.

That would sell for huge money.

What was the condition of the Lombardi sweater when you found it?

There were some little holes in it, but none of the stuff from the '40s is going to be pristine, unless it's been sitting in a cedar chest. That's why I think a lot of people passed on it. When I saw "West Point" on it, a little bell went off. I knew Bobby Knight coached there, and Mike Krzyzewski, and Bill Belichick, and Bill Parcells. A lot of people don't know, but the army used to be a perennial powerhouse in football. They won three national championships in a row.

So you looked at the tag in the sweater and saw a handwritten "Lombardi." Then what did you do?

That's when I shit a brick. I contacted the NFL Hall of Fame. And they were kind of laughing, "Oh sure, you have a thing you got at a thrift store." So I sent them pictures of it. Then they wanted me to give it to them for free. I thought about giving it to his son. Then I talked to someone from Heritage Auctions in Dallas. The person I talked to was actually from Green Bay. I sent him the pictures, and he was going crazy. Two days later, I drove to Dallas.

How did the sweater get from Lombardi in the '40s to a Goodwill bin in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2015?

Lombardi gave the sweater to an assistant coach in the '50s. A guy named Bill Wannamaker. At some point, Wannamaker moved to Asheville, and when he passed away, his family gave it to Goodwill, where it sat in the back. Wannamaker ended up working for the telephone company. He was a war hero as well. There wasn't much money to be made from football back then unless you were top dog. A lot of stuff that's donated to Goodwill just goes into a huge range box in the back for however long until they sort it. Most of the old stuff gets shredded because of holes or stains. They don't have an eye or an appreciation for older stuff. They threw this sweater in a bin, hoping someone would pay a quarter for it.

What's next for you? You have this momentum. His-and-hers celebrational Jet Skis?

I'm going to go invest it into the business. I'm constantly trying to expand, and trying to get my hand into as many coin drops as I can. Because that's how you make money. You have to be versatile. I try to be constantly evolving, in business and as a person. Same goes for music and art. I don't want to be the same person I was two days ago, or 10 years ago. I want to be changing and learning. It makes life more interesting, and gets you more in touch with yourself.

So you're moving back to Seattle? Tell me Tit Pig is re-forming.

Nope. Tit Pig is finished. We'll be back in a couple months. I'm actually playing music again with my wife, Rikki. For now we're calling it Family Plot. Kind of an experimental combination of Swans and Current 93. We've been recording with GarageBand, but we'll do a proper album when we get back there. We've been together off and on for nine or 10 years, and have always talked about doing music together. We've been married for three. It's so nice to have that connection with someone, to do music together, and work together, and be married to my best friend. We'll never tour or anything, but I'm always making music. I write at least one new song a week. But I don't think there's any money in music unless you're Macklemore. You gotta be writing pop songs like Taylor Swift or Kanye West. You gotta have that hook. Macklemore makes so much money 'cause he has that guy that sings all those hooks. You can't get that stuff outta your head even if you want to. As much as I can't stand Macklemore, you gotta give it to him for making his stuff so catchy. It's almost like he's a hypnotist. I'm more a purist. I'm super into Coil. But to each their own. Do what you gotta do to be successful.

Do you have more of an appreciation for Macklemore now, after finding the Lombardi sweater at a Goodwill? You both love thrift shops.

No. I hate his music [laughs]. He's a poseur. We used to vibe him outta the bins, and I'd glare at him before I ever knew who he was. Ryan Lewis is even worse. I saw him again after he hit it big at the gas station on Broadway. He was wearing Jordans. I was like, "Oh shit, it's fucking Macklemore." Then I yelled, "You fucking suck, douchebag!" He's a clown with some Grammys. Nickelback3more. I hate that people support that shitty college backpack rap. It's for yuppie Fremont dads and suburban white kids, when guys like Freddie Gibbs and Madlib probably made one of the best rap albums in 10 years. Run the Jewels are great, too.

Tell me how you really feel.

What happened to the Curtis Mayfields and Bobby Womacks and Gil Scott-Herons? Nina Simone didn't need anyone but herself. And Alice Coltrane is a goddess. Miles Davis, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Jesse Fuller, Mississippi John Hurt. Those are the heroes. I'm tired of idiots thinking it's cool to like Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and fucking Green Day. People are Helen Kellered right now, living in darkness, not paying attention. Jay Z and Kanye are ripping off '90s Memphis rap so hard and acting like they invented it, like Elvis did to rock 'n' roll in the '50s. People act like Jay Z, Drake, and Kanye are on some deep intellectual level. But who can relate to any of that bullshit, complaining about the fashion world and how much money they have? The reality is that black people are being targeted by the police the same way they were in the '50s and '60s, and we have a black president that could give two shits about it. He'd rather give them free health care and welfare than a better education and employment opportunities. How about not letting American companies source their jobs overseas? Fifty kids per classroom is a fucking joke.

What's Knoxville like? Do you say "Y'all" now?

No. I don't say any of that shit. I'm not into that vibe. At first it was cool because it was new and exciting. But after a while, I was like, these people suck. I miss Seattle so much. When I left, I was all, "Good riddance." I never thought I would miss it this much.

What brought you down there?

I wanted change. I was looking for vintage clothing, and thought since it's older over here, I'd find more stuff. But I actually find more in Seattle for some reason. We've been here since April. We're close to Dolly Parton. I thought there was going to be all this denim because of all the old mills that manufactured it in the '30s, but it hasn't been the case. And Southern people are really suspicious. If you don't have a Southern accent and you're not from around here, they're wary. No one wants you to make money off their stuff. They'll have an old barn jacket sitting in their garage worth $500 and they'll let rats eat it. They'd rather let it rot than have you give them $200 so you can make $200. It's weird, and backward. People are insanely lazy and slow-paced. People drink on the job.

How's Nashville?

Nashville sucks, too. People talk it up like it's rad, but it's lame. It's like a million cowboys in acid-washed True Religion jeans and Bret Michaels outfits walking around thinking they're really cool. It's so pitiful. There's this hick-hop thing with nu-country. Oh my God. I think Nashville, and I think George Jones and Wagoner and awesome Nudie suits—dudes who are gentlemen. But it's actually bros who are into hiphop, trying to put a country twist on it to make money. This band Florida Georgia Line did a song with Nelly, and it's more terrible than you could ever imagine. That's Nashville in a nutshell.

What kind of clothes do you like to find for your business? What do you look for?

We're kind of all over the place. Concert T-shirts from the '80s and '90s—Sonic Youth, Nirvana, or Manson. I really like to find work-wear from WWII and before. It's hard to find, though. There's not really that much cool stuff left. You're not going to find a Black Sabbath T-shirt from the '70s anymore. I'll go all over the country. On any given Sunday, you never know what you're going to find. I've been doing this for almost 15 years, out of necessity maybe, due to chemical imbalance, and this is the only way I can make a living. I'll go days without sleeping sometimes trying to find stuff. I'll go to lots of flea markets and estate sales. I do business with rag houses, too. I'm constantly working and trying to come up any way I can. I love doing it. recommended