Rags to riches stories can be inspiring and surprising sometimes, but they all have one thing in common, a bit of luck and lots of hard work. Let’s face it though, most people that work hard don’t end up rich. However, when you hit your toe against an old can full of Roman gold coins on your way home from a hard day of work, what do you call that? Or better still, a casino makes a mistake and gives you a $1 million check, then says, you can keep it! Such are the events that changed the lives of some common people forever. People who landed on life-changing treasure while simply living their daily lives, turning them into millionaires and sometimes billionaires overnight. Here is a look at the ones we found most interesting.
The Kevin Lewis Mix-Up
Casinos aren’t usually this generous, but this one sure was. The Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati was holding a promotional contest in which Kevin Lewis won $1 million. The problem is, there were two Kevin Lewises in the casino that day, with alarmingly many similarities, including name and age. The casino awarded the winnings to a Kevin Lewis, who was just observing the draw before realizing the wrong guy had received the check. They then decided that there was no use recalling the win and wrote another whole new $1 million check for the correct Lewis, allowing both men to keep their winnings.
The Lucky Base Ball
On September 27, 1998, Mark McGwire, the Cardinals player hit 70 home runs in a baseball game against the Expos at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Philip Ozersky wasn’t much of a fan, but he went to watch the game alongside his colleagues. When McGwire hit the ball, it bounced off the stands into the crowd, bounced off the hands of Ozersky’s colleagues into his hands. The Cardinals officials tried to convince him to hand over the ball in exchange for a McGwire jersey and a signed bat, but Ozersky turned it down and requested to meet McGwire instead. The baseball star turned down Ozersky’s request, so Ozersky took the ball to the auction and sold it for $3.05 million.
$4 for the Declaration of Independence
There were 25 original copies of the Declaration Of Independence printed in 1776 of which, less than 10 are known to be owned by private individuals. In 1991, one was sold at an auction for $2.4 million, making it one of the most expensive pieces of the document to be ever sold. Its story was even more interesting. The owner, an art collector, acquired it after buying an old painting in a garage sale. He decided to discard the painting, but then the frame looked good, so he took it apart and, in the process, found a well-preserved copy of the Declaration.
The Highest Paid Dog Walk
Dog walking can be a well-paying career unless you are walking your own dog, in which case you don’t get anything. One couple from Nevada who chose to remain anonymous were walking their dog in the backyard when the dog got attracted to an old can. The couple later unearthed the can only to find more cans around the area. The total haul was made of over 1400 years old gold coins believed to have been left behind in the 19th century during the Gold Rush. The treasure was valued at $10 million, making the highest value of accidental treasure in the US. Hope that dog got its share too!
The Fortune Blanket
Loren Krytzer’s 2000s were marked by misfortune after he lost his leg in a car accident and with it, his job. The bills bankrupted him, forcing him to move to an old shack in Liona Valley, Ca. His fortunes, however, changed when he walked into an art collector’s shop and asked him if an old blanket his grandmother had left him was worth anything. It turned out that it was an 1800 Navajo blanket highly sought after by collectors. The blanket was only left to him because no one else wanted it after his grandmother died. Kritzer sold the blanket for $1.5 million in an auction changing his story from rags to riches, literally, because he sold the rag!
The Treasure in the Trash
In 2007, Thomas Schultz and Joseph Lawrence invested $300,000 in a two-bedroom house in Bellport. The house came with an old garage, and both were abandoned and needed a makeover. Among the trash that was marked to be dumped were 7,000 paintings by a person whom the homeowner only identified as a wacky cousin and had no problem with his work being dumped. The painter turned out to be Arthur Pinajian, and what the homeowner didn’t know, the paintings were worth $90 million. The new homeowners only found out after consulting art experts and, of course, made a huge profit after opening a gallery to sell the paintings.
The Welcome Graffiti
Of course, no one appreciates vandals messing up their garage walls with graffiti, but what if you are in Wales and the vandal is Banksy? That is exactly what happened to a steelworker named Ian Lewis from Port Talbot. The famous graffiti named season’s greetings turned Lewis’ home into a museum overnight as people flooded the place to have a look at it. He was forced to approach the government for security and later received multiple offers to sell the art. He was keen on having the art remain in town, so he settled for a six-figure sum from an anonymous art collector.
Yodeling into $1 Million
In 2018, a video went viral of an 11-year-old yodelling to Hank William’s song Lovesick Blues, and yes, he was doing it so well that his name became Lil Hanks. All this happened at a Walmart in Illinois where Ramsey had gone for regular shopping and was only doing what he had done before, except this time, someone captured it for him. Walmart management was also impressed by the performance and awarded Ramsey a $15,000 college scholarship, although he was still in 5th grade. Lil Hanks soon became famous and got invitations to perform at the Grand Ole Opry and other big stages. He is now a millionaire kid-musician with a whole country music career and a record deal with Atlantic Records. His net worth is over $1 million.
The Hoxne Hoard
This is the name given to the largest ever stash of Roman gold and silver coins and other jewellery ever discovered in the UK and actually anywhere within the limits of the Roman empire. It happened in 1992 when a guy called Eric Lawes lost his hammer on a farm in the Hoxne village in Suffolk. He then contacted his friend, who had a metal detector to help him find the hammer in the field, but they found more than just a hammer. The farm had over 15,000 gold coins and silver spoons, which are now part of the British Museum collection of Roman artefacts. Oh, and they found the hammer alright, although they gave it to the museum as well. The hoard was worth an estimated $4.3 million.
Pablo Escobar’s $600 Million
If you watched Netflix’s Narcos, then you know that Escobar was worth over $30 billion and that he hid some of his wealth underground on farms all over Colombia. Many farmers have unearthed his stashed money since his death, but none found one bigger than that of Jose Cartolos. Cartolos had just received a grant to rejuvenate his palm oil plantation. One day, while tending to his crops, he dug into a plastic container full of cash. The plastic tank had $600 million in it, making it the biggest haul of Escobar’s drug money ever made in Colombia. Cartolos, however, didn’t keep the secret, he told authorities about his find, and the authorities took all of it, leaving him to continue farming. Sad, wasn’t it?