They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, which is why people around the country buy abandoned storage containers. While they have no idea what they are buying, these modern-day treasure hunters are hoping that the items will be worth the gamble.
In 2018, a lucky man purchased a storage container without looking in it for $500. It wasn’t until he got inside, however, that he discovered he had accidentally hit the jackpot. Yet after discovering the treasure, the man was faced with an impossible decision.
A Charity Auction
On November 1, 2018, Dan Dotson, who owns and operates his own auction house and stars in the A&E reality show, Storage Wars, attended a charity event with his wife, Laura. According to Dotson, money was being raised by an auction hosted by Cars, Stars and Rock N’ Roll.
Spotted By A Fan
According to Dotson, he couldn’t help but notice a woman had been staring at him while at the charity auction event in Indio, California. At first, Dotson figured it was just someone who had recognized him from the reality TV show where he auctions off abandoned storage containers or lockers.
Modern-Day Treasure Hunting
In the state of California, any storage container can be auctioned off or sold if the owner fails to pay rent for the container for three months. After three months, ownership is then forfeited. In the show, modern-day treasure hunters bid on storage containers that are being sold at the cash-only auction.
A Reality TV Star
Because of his role on the television show, Dotson sometimes gets recognized by fans in real life. So when he saw the older woman staring at him, he assumed she was just a typical fan trying to work up the nerve to go over and introduce herself.
Ignoring The Attention
“An older Asian woman at the table next to me kept looking at me like she wanted to tell me something,” Dotson told The Blast in the days after the charity auction event. Dotson didn’t pay too much attention to the woman and just went on with his business.
An Incredible Story
However, as the night went on, Dotson noticed the woman still looking at him and appearing to want to tell him something. “Eventually she walked up and told me her husband works with a guy who bought a unit from me,” Dodson said about the interaction.
An Ordinary Purchase
“It was an amazing story,” Dotson told The Desert Sun about the exchange with the stranger at the charity auction event. “She said, ‘I just gotta tell you this story, my husband works for a guy that bought a unit from you and there was a safe in there.’”
Hoping For A Treasure
The woman told Dotson that the man she knew had paid him $500 for the container, which was up for sale after the original owner failed to pay rent on the storage locker. He had no idea what to expect with the purchase but hoped he was walking away with some kind of treasure.
Once he bought the container, the woman explained that her husband’s colleague opened it up to finally see what he had just paid several hundred dollars for. When the man laid eyes on a safe, he was hopeful that something valuable was being kept inside.
Opening The Safe
Typically, there’s not much left inside of safes when they are found inside abandoned storage lockers, so the man tried not to get his hopes up before opening it up. However, getting the safe open turned out to be more difficult than he had originally anticipated.
An Unexpected Challenge
According to the woman, the man tried calling a safe expert. When the person showed up, however, they wouldn’t help them open it. “The first person that they called to open the safe couldn’t, or didn’t,” Dotson said in a video he and his wife made to share the incredible story.
Full To The Brim
The man refused to give up on the safe and decided to call another expert who they hoped would be able to unlock the safe. “They called a second person and when that person opened it up … inside the safe they’re normally empty, but this time it wasn’t empty,” Dotson said.
Stacks Of Cash
When the man looked inside, he discovered piles and piles of cash. He truly couldn’t believe what he was looking at and started counting the money and piling it up as he counted it. In the end, the man discovered he had somehow blindly purchased a large fortune.
A Large Fortune
Ultimately, the man discovered the safe had been holding $7.5 million inside all in stacks of cash. According to Dotson, he was completely stunned by the staggering figure. “I say ‘$7.5 million?’ and she says, ‘Cash.’,” Dodson said about his immediate reaction to the story.
Things Get Complicated
However, the woman went on to explain that things got a bit complicated soon after the discovery was made. Somehow, word got out about the life-changing find and the original owners discovered that their storage container and all of their money had been sold.
A Common Occurance
Dotson’s wife, Laura, explained that storage units become abandoned all the time for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the owner moves away and forgets about their property, or simply forgets or refuses to pay the rent. Other times, people end up in jail or pass away.
The Old Owners
While it’s not entirely clear how the owners could have possibly forgotten about their storage unit, which held millions of dollars in cash, they forgot to pay the storage rental fees. Despite losing the rights to their unit, the original owners had their lawyers contact the man who bought their fortune for just a few hundred dollars.
The attorney explained the original owners wanted their money back and were willing to offer a $600,000 reward for returning it to them. The original owners thought it was a fair offer, but the new owner declined the offer. Eventually, however, they were able to reach a settlement.
In the end, the new owner accepted an offer to keep $1.2 million for returning the other $6.3 million. While many were stunned that the new owner was willing to give any of the money back, Dotson and his wife agreed they would have done the same thing.
A Smart Decision
The hosts of Storage Wars seemed to have different opinions about whether they’d return the money or not. “If you find money like that, there’s probably a reason it isn’t in the bank,” Rene Nezhoda, Dotson’s co-star on Storage Wars, told The Blast. Dotson said, “I wouldn’t ask a damn thing.”