Classy Fan Praised for Returning 3000th Ball to Derek Jeter

With one swing of the bat, a 23-year-old fan's life changed forever.

Christian Lopez still can't believe he's the lucky guy who caught Yankee superstar Derek Jeter's 3000th hit.

"Never in a million years did I think this would happen to me," Lopez told INSIDE EDITION.

But Lopez shocked the rest of the world when he gave the historic ball back to Jeter for free, when experts say it's worth $250,000-$500,000.

Even though Lopez has over $100,000 of student loan debt, he said he'd do the same thing all over again.

"I'm 23 years old. I have time to pay off my student loans. What Derek Jeter did is spectacular," Lopez said.

Now, Lopez is the toast of the town.

"I don't think there's many people, not only in New York, but in the United States [like Christian.] I think most people would've looked at the $250,000-$500,000 they could've gotten for selling the baseball," WFAN's Mark Malusis said.

Lopez, a customer service rep for Verizon, lives with his parents in Highland Mills, New York. He and his father were sitting together when Jeter's blast came right at them.

"My dad was the first person that touched the ball in the air," Lopez said, "It hit him in the thumb and dribbled over to me and I just jumped on it."

In the wild scramble, it helped that Lopez is 6'5" and 300 lbs. He also played college football.  

After his 3000th

hit, Jeter waved to his father and actress girlfriend Minka Kelly, who were sitting in a luxury box.

Meanwhile, Lopez was whisked away to a news conference. Everyone was stunned at the class he exhibited in turning over the ball to Jeter in spite of its value.

"Mr. Jeter deserved it. I'm not going to take it away from him. Money is cool and all, but I'm only 23 years old, and I have a lot of time to make that," he said.

Even Jeter was surprised.

"He got his ticket from his girlfriend. He owes her quite a bit after this one, so he's going to be paying her back for quite some time," Jeter said.

Lopez didn't go home empty-handed. The Yankees rewarded him with four luxury box seats for every game for the rest of the season. Jeter gave him autographed goods, including three bats, three balls, and three jerseys.

Nevertheless, the loot is nowhere near worth the half a million dollars that the ball was. But the world's classiest fan couldn't care less.

"I feel like the luckiest guy in the world," Lopez said.