Looks like nice guys can finish first. The Yankees fan who caught then returned Derek Jeter’s 3,000th-hit ball won't walk away empty handed: Christian Lopez has scored a $50,000 "donation," a 2009 World Series ring, and his own Topps baseball card. Better still, if the IRS decides those goodies are not "gifts," Miller High Life has agreed to pay the taxes on them. The chunk of cash will come from two sporting-goods companies, and will help pay off Lopez’s $150,000 in student debt.
“Never ever would I have expected this,” says Lopez. “It's an incredible feeling.” Why are the companies giving so freely? Because Lopez “came out of left field and had no agenda,” says the CEO of one of the sporting-goods companies ponying up $25,000. But the Wall Street Journal reports that even money given to Lopez to cover the tax bill could be taxed. "The legal test" to determine any tax on the donations "is whether these are made out of detached and disinterested generosity or whether for some other reason," says an expert.