CHICAGO (WLS) -- Palatine resident Mark Lackinger has been named the 2018 Lids Ultimate Hat Collector in recognition of his massive baseball cap collection that was started more than a decade ago.
"I'd come home every day with like three or four and my dad would just be like '(sigh) more hats,'" Lackinger recalled of his teenage years.
To say Mark Lackinger "likes" hats would be a serious understatement. He's amassed a whopping 655 from Lids.
The diversity and shear size of his collection made Lackinger stick out among more than 2,000 other entrants on social media, said Lids Director of Digital Advertising Wendy Mudis.
"He had all of his hats laid out on the floor organized in just this amazing way," she recalled of what made Lids pick him as a finalist.
The photo he submitted displayed all of his hats-at least one for each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams (often home, away and alternate editions) and each of the World Baseball Classic teams too. There's one football hat: for "da Bears." Lackinger said he's a big White Sox fan, so you won't need to think too hard about which team is represented best.
Lids said 13,000 people then voted for one of the 8 finalists; Lackinger was victorious.
"It means I have a bunch of hats and a serious addiction," he said, adding, "I tell people I have a lot of hats, they never believe me. Then they see it and they're like 'whoa.'"
Asked what about the hobby gives him joy, Lackinger said "It is hard to explain, but everyone's got their stuff that they love to do."
The reward for such commitment? A one-of-a-kind champion's hat and Lids gift certificate, naturally, helping bring his total up to that 655 mark.
Lackinger estimates the collection's value is roughly $15,000. With such a hefty price tag, Lackinger said he rarely wears them, instead showing them all off at once on display.
I guess all that's left to say is hats off to the champ!
Palatine man boasts collection of more than 650 baseball caps