People Who Made A Lot Of Money From Something Totally Random Share Their Story

Knowable

We all hope for it, yet deep down know never to expect it: the sudden lucky break that leaves us flush with cash.


We conjure images of a tech startup explosion without any grueling all-nighters. Or maybe the dream is a random viral Youtube video that rakes in cash off the ad money.

Others fantasize about more traditional methods of sudden wealth. They hope for a huge legal settlement, a long-lost relative's will, or a sleeping giant of an art piece.

But we don't really expect it to happen. The astronomical odds just aren't enough to orient your life around.

That said, it happens. Some Redditors were a few of the lucky ones. They told their stories in a recent thread.

Sebulista asked, "Redditors who made a lot of money by sheer randomness, what's your story?"

Before the Fall

"I briefly worked with a guy who was in his late 20s, ex military. When he got out, a friend of his he served with told him to buy Bitcoin. He bought several thousand worth when it was nothing and forgot about it."

"When it first started spiking and getting attention on the news, he started looking for the drive because he thought he had some. He did and he had a lot of it. Sold well before the peak."

"Dude made millions. He had an $800,000 house, multiple high end cars and came to work a manual labor job 'because he was bored.' Needless to say, he didn't stay long and all he did was show off his money and clock hours not actually working."

-- uoYredruM

Sudden Bequeathing

"My wife's aunt died. She had been institutionalized her whole life and neither of us had ever even met her. We kind of forgot about it for a few months until my wife's uncle emailed her and said she was going to be getting some money."

"We were like oh, OK, that's kinda weird, but not complaining."

"Then my wife got a phone call from the uncle one evening. I heard a lot of 'ums,' 'OKs,' and 'geeze, wows.' Turned out we were getting over $300,000."

"We were both grinding away making $15 an hour and barely making rent every month, and then boom. Outta nowhere."

"That ended up being the difference between having a house and not having a house, being able to start a family and not being able to start a family, and having a retirement fund vs just hoping not to get evicted every month."

-- RougeCannon

One and Done

"I won $5,000 playing bingo on a cruise. I have only been on one cruise, and it was the only time I have played bingo in my life. I have retired from both.." -- frivus

"Going out on top" -- xkygerx

"First time I went to Vegas after turning 21 I played a slot machine, won $3,000 on my first try. Haven't gambled since" -- phoebe-buffey

A Particular Clientele

"I was a male escort for about 7ish years. Not a sex worker, specifically an escort. I would go with people(Usually women, but sometimes men.) And would pretend to be their perfect boyfriend/partner in front of friends and family/co-workers."

"It started out very much as an accident but ended up making me a ton of money. I recently 'retired' and started focusing on going to school cause I can't do escorting my whole life, and nor did I want because I really dislike people and it was honestly a chore."

"Most of my clients were '1 percenters' which is the reason I made so much money. I did pay taxes on it before anyone asks."

-- Human_Distribution38

Accidental Art Collectors

"My friend's father was gifted an oil pencil drawing in the late 70s. His family always assumed it was pretty much worthless and I always joked that it looked like my friend had drawn it as a child. This silly angry stick figure drawing ended up being an unsigned piece of art by Jean-Michel Basquiat."

"His family did some digging and eventually had it authenticated by the JMB estate before selling it at Christie's auction house for an amazing sum of money."

"I was absolutely blown away when I learned this. My friend and his family were far from wealthy so to realize they had this unknown treasure just sitting out in the living room for so many years was mind blowing."

-- Zuliman

Dead Drop

"I found 3600 dollars in a food takeout box in the middle of a giant field, I live in a rich area and lot of drug deals happen so it's possible I stole multiple thousands of dollars from a drug dealer on accident" -- Hingadowshow

"someone probably died or lost a limb because of that :X not your fault, just saying" -- OdinWolfe

"I feel like this is the plot to a semi-shitty action film." -- Dudelyllama

A Flash of Excitement

"I started an Amazon private label business on a whim in 2015. I made about 25% of the sale in profit after product, shipping, and advertising costs."

"Sales doubled every month for six months June $4k, July $8k August $18k, September $40k, October $84k November $175k, December $362k."

"I didn't know what to do. I quit my job in January to focus on growing the business, but my time was spent mostly trying to fend off competition copying my listing and posting fraudulent reviews and then lowering my price in the race to the bottom."

"It went well for a few years, but I never made as much as I made that first December."

"Lesson learned: arbitrage isn't a long term business"

AlwaysOptimism

Moral: Don't Be a Jerk

"The summer after my freshmen year in college I was walking my little 20lb dog on a street near my house. A neighbor lady was walking her two dogs who were a husky and some other similar sized dog."

"The husky attacked my dog and in the process I got some teeth marks on my wrist. Since the neighbors dog started it and the owner obviously couldn't control it I wanted them to pay the vet fees for my dog which was under 500."

"The guy ended up being a di** about it and my roommates dad was a lawyer so about a year and half later I ended up with about 20k."

-- Br1nkley

One of the Lucky Ones

"I quit a job at a startup that was a mess, and I just wanted to do something relaxing so I took some time of cleaning up an old algorithm I wrote 10 years ago. I told a friend of mine, who told some industry people about it. They contacted me and I got invited to talk about it at a conference and then large companies started getting in touch."

"So far I have signed one 7 figure deal to license it. Its not random but it feels very random. I'm making more in interest now then i ever have earned holding down a job."

"The world is not fair."

-- quelsolaar

Location, Location, Location

"Normal reddit reply of 'not me but' my friend's dad's friend. He decided to open an ice business. Hey, everyone need ice. He bought an old warehouse because it was cheap."

"Government decided to redo the on ramps to the bridge and needed to buy like 1/3rd of his parking lot, maybe say 20 parking spots worth. He didn't care, he had a staff of like 4, never used more than that."

"I never heard exact numbers but I did hear he got more for those spots, than he paid for the property."

-- somedude456

"I bought a waterproof camera..."

I bought a waterproof camera back in 2010 and thought it would be cool to try it out at the new water park that just opened. 1 years later the video blew up making me tons of money monthly. I still make some during the summer months but not much. Now I'm sitting at just over 100,000,000 views.

t073

"I originally secured..."

In the 90s I fostered a dog for some friends who were leaving town and left the dog with me. This dog immediately made an impression upon me, and even though I really didn't want a pet at the time, he was such an amazing dog, he convinced me otherwise. He was super smart, half black lab, half pit bull. I called him "wisdom" because he was so smart.

Fast forward a few years I used him as a mascot for a recording studio I set up. I registered the domain name wisdom.com. My dog passed away several years later and I was heartbroken and depressed for many years. I maintained the domain name even though I didn't really have any projects associated with it. Over the years people made offers on the domain name but I always passed. The domain was a homage to my long lost best friend.

Then in 2000 with the dot-com boom, there was renewed interest in domains and IPOs. I had a few groups bugging me for the domain name and kept increasing their offers. Eventually the numbers got into the "life changing" areas of money, and I couldn't ignore them.

I originally secured the wisdom.com domain name for nothing. In the early days of the Internet, it didn't cost any money to register a domain name. You just had to fill out the right forms. I actually would never have to pay any domain renewal fees if it wasn't for a sysadmin that made changes to the domain and accepted new terms of service that forced me to have to pay renewal fees. Otherwise, the $475,000 I was ultimately offered in cash would have been pure profit. But instead my cost was a few hundred dollars over the year. Still a significant windfall that gave me the opportunity to take that money and create another cool community of wonderful people.

I continue to be in awe that my little dog, Wisdom, had the ability to bestow such an amazing gift upon me so many years later, and I'm determined to use that gift to help others. I took the money to create a special space that is a makerspace and club to help others.

MysticCrewe

"My neighbor..."

My neighbor died with no friends or family and left everything in her will to us. Everyone always asks if we were great neighbors to her? I'd say no, we were just neighbors and treated her as we would want to be treated and did neighborly duties for her. If it snowed we cleared her driveway without her asking, took care of her cats if she went to the beach, say Hello if we saw her.

She was a tough cookie and an alpha female, would be the best way to put it. She hated if I played basketball in the driveway and when we were cleaning out her garage after she died we found 3 of my old basketballs. But she was also the type of person if she wanted an apple pie she would bake an apple pie and take a slice and bring the rest over to us.

dwmeds

"When they got too old..."

My dad and uncle had distant cousins that lived in town. Retired teachers. We all thought they were poor as church mice. My mom had them for Easter--they didn't want to come to the other celebrations as they hated my grandmother.

When they got too old to live on their own, my mother got their house sold and had them set up in a retirement/convalescent home. We did all the moving ourselves. They loved us kids, so we were brought over to sit and chat with them every few months. My father and uncle never did a thing.

When they died, it turned out they'd invested well and were sitting on a bunch of valuable stocks. They left 25% to my uncle (who called to ask who they were), 25% to my father, and 50% to my mother! It was a great lesson in kindness. My mother was nice because they were "poor" family and ended up getting a huge chunk of cash for her efforts!

LionCM

"Turned 18..."

Turned 18 and bought 2 $5 lottery tickets as a goof, won $10 and said fuck it let it ride and bought 2 more. Won $1000 and have stayed away from gambling since.

lpplph

"My dad really loved the idea of it..."

It wasn't so much randomness, and my family isn't filthy rich, but we seriously just threw s*** at a wall to see what would stick.

My family was immensely poor for a while. Credit card debt, bankruptcy when I was born, etc... Well, YouTube came around in 2005. My dad really loved the idea of it and saw potential in the platform. He watched it for years, seeing what people liked. In 2009, my dad decided to do YouTube in his free time, as he likes to be busy and it gave some bonding time with myself. One video after another. One subscriber after another. One viewer after another. Somehow, he ended up getting monetized fairly quickly with YouTube. It was a pretty good amount at the time (a few grand monthly) that it gave my family the stepping stone to get out of poverty level.

We continued the channel for fun even after we got better financially. Even enough to get a slightly bigger house. The channel ended up being put down in 2016 due to unrelated things that caused long hiatuses. I kind of miss it to be honest.

SillyBlackSheep

"At first..."

At first I figured I had nothing to contribute to this thread. But when I started reading about people getting severance packages and winning $500 at the casino. Hell, I got a $55k severance package from my last job and won $18k in the lottery.

fococholo

"I was able to salvage..."

I was in an apartment fire. My apartment wasn't damaged by fire but by thousands of gallons of water from the fire department and a little bit of smoke. My renters insurance payed out the max $30k. I got to salvage BLM it's if my stuff minus all the furniture.

I had to come up with a list over the weekend of all my processions and their value. I think I was at like maybe $10k on my list. My apartment manager and the insurance adjuster just said to make shit up basically. So in about a 10 minute time frame I edited my list and BSed it from $10k close to $25k. The adjuster gave very little push back during the inspection and maxed it out cause I would need a hotel temporary.

I was able to salvage most of most processions but it was a lot of trips to the laundromat, and spending the next few months just washing all my stuff. It really sucked as I was living in Airbnb's during the weekdays and staying with my parents 2 hours away on the weekends. And I had to find a new apartment while being effectively homeless. I'd say the hassle was worth at least $10k.

cainga

"While waiting for them..."

I went to the Netherlands (you know the country not the....ok I'll stop) for vacation when I was about 11 (?) and went on a biking trip with my uncle. When we finished the tour we were quite far away from where we stayed so my uncles dad came to pick us up by car and drove us back.

Along the road we obviously made some pitstops and there it was in all its glory: a gas station gamble machine.

While waiting for them to finish their duties I went ahead and pressed random buttons and out of nowhere €1 and €2 coins start falling out of it. It continued for about a minute before it stopped. I was perplexed cause I actually hadn't put anything inside so I didn't expect anything.

How much did I get you ask? €43 straight cash...which isn't a lot to be fair but as a 11 year old foreigner randomly receiving foreign money out of a gambling machine it made me feel like I was at the top of the world.

Had a bad@ss time at the fair when we got back.

xc99

"I used that..."

My father died when I was 17. Social security gave me a check for 10,000

I used that and my life savings to put a 20% down payment on a house in Central Valley of California in 2013.

My house has doubled in price and I pay 1/3 what renting would be.

Pajamadrunk

"We were approached..."

Sold a company in 2008. I got out of the military and had some friends that were starting a small veteran owned defense contracting company. I owned about 18 or so percent of the company when sold.

We were approached by a very large company in 2007 about buying and by early 2008 I had enough money where I didnt have to work probably ever again. I got into real estate investing working for myself with some close friends shortly after that and have owned my own business ever since.

People say "Well I worked incredibly hard to get my business to where it is" and that was true but the other half was just pure luck that I managed to partner with some tremendously smart people. Who I knew has taken me MUCH farther than what i know. Now I work maybe 16 hours a week from my phone or laptop.

graps

"When I was little..."

When I was little, my Dad worked for a national pest control company. They were making people work 70-80 work weeks at minimum wage without paying them overtime. He didn't work there too long as he got sick of being treated like trash. He quit and called the labor board or whoever it would have been. Apparently an investigation was started and about a year or so later, every single person who'd ever worked for them received a check for all of their unpaid overtime! Hearing the story as an adult, I was so damn proud of my Dad.

teasteyen

"Upon research..."

Bought a street sign from a local thrift store for $20 because I thought it looked cool. Upon research I discovered it was a prop from a popular tv show. Think it appeared in the opening credits. Sold it for $700.

Sulaco99

"First one..."

I made about $7k on a car I paid $80 for.

This isn't a lot of money, but I was essentially given an older car when I was in college by my parents, all I did was pay a transfer fee. It was an early 90s vehicle in the 2010s so the vehicle had already seen better days.

On two separate occasions the car was parked and hit by someone. First guy left a note and the second I knew the person. We got estimates on the damage to send to the insurance companies.

First one was a broken tail light. Due to some paint damage, a barely noticeable dent, and the color of the vehicle being uncommon the estimate was $1k. We had the insurance company cut us a check for the money and fixed it ourselves. I just fixed the tail light with a junkyard one.

The second incident was someone hitting black ice and sliding in my car. The driver side doors were messed up. Same situation, estimate was around $6700. Insurer cut us a check and we fixed it with junkyard doors that were very close in color. Total cost was maybe $600 to us.

That money helped pay for some tuition/rent while in school.

coltsblazers

"I still collect..."

I was 19 at the time and a few years after my grandfather died I got a massive envelope in the mail stuffed with about 50 pages of contracts and forms. Apparently my deadbeat dad forgot to disclose to me and my brother that we owned fractional ownership to mineral rights on some land in Tyler, TX. Apparently quite a few companies were prospecting the land for oil and were driving up the prices of the land leases. Well, one company finally leased the land from all the owners, and I received around 15,000 for my stake in the land contracts.

Being 19, in college, and living a bit of a party lifestyle, I blew most of it, which I still regret to this day, but I did end up buying a shit ton of music equipment that helped me to where I am today as a musician. So that was cool.

Looking back now I wish I would have saved or invested it, but at least there is a silver lining in that story.

I still collect monthly royalties on the oil that is being harvested from that land, but it's maybe $100 a month, which is nice.

Bagdudepdx

"I like to think..."

A dude sat next to me on a bench and we had small talk for like 15 minutes, then he got up to leave, shook my hand and walked off.

He'd planted $900 right in my hand. Was so random and smooth.

I like to think I was the chosen one because I have a dazzling personality. But my friend thinks its just because I look homeless and the dude took pity on me.

Either way, it was awesome.

foldbackclip

"I only discovered..."

Made a couple of thousand dollars profit off of the random popularity of a lip balm on the internet. You may be familiar with the lip balm eos? The little egg-shape thing? Well, after they became so popular, a rival brand called revo came out. But revo stepped it up a notch and offered a much wider array of different flavors/scents (like lip smackers), released seasonally as limited editions. They were only sold at a few places like Walgreens.

I only discovered that they were selling for greater than purchase price by accident, when i was looking on ebay for a scent i had missed out on. At the time i was doing a good deal of traveling for work, so in my long drives i would hit up the Walgreens i ran across on my way. I was able to locate in more rural locations a good amount of older releases that had sold out in larger cities. My biggest sale was about $200 for $30 in lip balm. The majority were smaller sales for a lot less.

Overall I don't think it was a great exercise in making lots of money. After you factor in the time i spent in labor, the packaging & postage, the fees that went to ebay, etc, it was not much. But It was a very good return on something that was kind of a hobby.

Chowdmouse

"Plus..."

Started a new job a few years ago with a very nice base salary plus commission incentives if I met my goals. My boss, being the gangster that she is, rushed my hiring so I could start before the end of the fiscal year. The reason for this is because they were doing away with a pension plan at the end of the year but anyone hired prior to the end got grandfathered in. Very thoughtful of her!

My new boss knew something else though that I didn't. The previous rep screwed the company over pretty good going to a direct competitor with no notice, and if the position wasn't filled prior to the end of the fiscal year, they'd still have to pay out the Q4 commission even though he left in Q3.

My "official" start date was 13 days before the end of the fiscal year, but they couldn't get my computer/phone/company car etc so my boss told me to hang tight. So I spent a month fishing, hiking, enjoying time off while still being paid a salary for a job I hadn't even started. When my first paycheck came, my jaw hit the floor. Not only did they pay me my very generous base salary, which was much higher than any job I'd had prior, but they also gave me the Q4 commission check, plus the 10% from Q1-3 that they hold in case you don't make it to quota, plus all the additional comp for being over quota.

After tax, my first paycheck for doing exactly zero work was almost $25k, which is more in a single paycheck than I made in an entire year for the first 3 years of my first job out of college. I called my boss to ask if there had been some kind of mistake, and she said, "Nope. Welcome to [company name]. If you work hard and do well, we take care of our people."

Needless to say, the strategy worked. I'm still with the company and plan to retire from here. I happily work my ass off and am proud of the work I do and the service my company provides. Plus they do stuff like this all the time (usually on a much smaller scale) to make sure their employees are well taken care of.

The_Riverbank_Robber

"Not nearly as much..."

I had a side gig as a karaoke host at a bar shortly after graduating college and one Sunday evening a very drunk patron came in holding a LOT of hundred-dollar bills. He had bet on a bunch of football games, slapped down three bills on the table, and said they were mine as long as I just played music and there wasn't karaoke. Luckily for me, the machine was broken and the owner couldn't come to fix it until a few hours later. The drunk fella was already long gone by then.

Not nearly as much money as most of the stories on here, but I thought it was a nice random bonus.

JosephCurrency

"I was randomly born into..."

Inheritance. I was randomly born into the "right" family. Yay me. Now I'm supposed to carry myself like I earned it and complain about anyone who wants "government handouts." I'm supposed to be grateful that I've been spared from a cruel society that lets the poor die of causes that I am now safe from. Not even grateful, but entitled.

theoneicameupwith

"I cried."

I didn't receive so much as money but a whole house.

Over the last five years I've helped out a really, really awesome friend of mine. Guy helped me to get a better job, a car recently, and balance my finances. I'm also close with his roommate who has slight autism I've started to help out the last year because he's been getting worse. Roommate is in his mid-fifties and we've been I serious talks about his retirement and care as he gets older. Otherwise sweet guy, helped me to learn how to drive and always thinks of others first.

Well, good friend mentioned he was buying a house and bringing his roommate with him to continue to care for him. Mentioned the place has four rooms and made an offer for me to move in. I gladly accepted and he helped me move out of the small bedroom I was renting at the time.

And I've helped these two through thick and thin, and they've done the same for me. A month after we move in to the new house my friend hits me with the news that it's mine. If something happens to him or his roommate I'm setup to the inherit the house. I asked him if he was sure and he adamant about it. Pointed out no one in his family or roommates had ever bothered to offer any help or assistance.

I cried. As someone whose been forced to move due to bad circumstances multiple times it was a big shock to me to be given a home like that. I always help these two because I care about them and they do the same in return without ever asking for me to pay them back.

ObjectiveAnalysis0

"About a decade ago..."

About a decade ago, our local newspaper had an online contest for a minivan. All you had to do was answer one question correctly. But, they didn't set a limit on the number of entries, so I (and, apparently, this other person; you could see the votes for each answer), stuffed the box. Although I didn't win the minivan, I did win second prize, a $2,000 BestBuy gift card.

Last year, a charity that I'm a part of had a fundraiser outing at our local ballpark. They picked my ticket from the 50/50 raffle. I also remembered that if you were still there at the stadium when they drew it, they'd add some extra cash, so I received over $1,300.

HiFiGuy197

"While there..."

Far from a rags to riches story, more of a life goes on story.

A few years ago between 2 credit cards I was 14k in debt, I was living on my own for the first time, kept buying sh!t I didn't really need, only paying minimums on my cards, and my salary was steadily decreasing at my bs call center job.

I started looking for another place to work since my pay was on par with just about anywhere else I had the skills to apply to, and suddenly my dad dies. We didn't really get along, he lived back East, divorced, broke, and I flew back to put him to rest with my sister.

While there we found a few bank statements she would handle, and my mom, maybe because he was her only husband, insisted on a casket and the army took care of his burial. In the months to come I received a 10k from one insurance company, and 5 from another, suddenly I had money, and I wisely cleared my debt. I found another mediocre job, and a few years later my sister finally sent me my part of his estate, maybe 14k. I used that money, along with my 401k to live off of while I went back to school, and got a job in tech. I started out pretty low since I'm in support, but since then I now make a respectable amount of money, and I'm proud of myself after 8 years I pay off my credit card every month and reap the rewards instead of getting sucked dry for interest.

To put out some numbers I made $10-12/hr at the call center, piece rate pay, at my current job I'm making 70k. If you want to know why the pay was decreasing it's because every 3-6 months the manager would change the pay scale, making it "better" for everyone, I was making $15-17/hr when I started.

ColdHotPocket_

Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.

Often, studying history can leave one feeling distant from the people and events they're reading about.

We ponder people and things from so many years ago in places so far away that it all feels more like a story than the real behavior of human beings just like us.

Keep reading... Show less
Image by andreas160578 from Pixabay

There's something soothing about hitting the road and driving, driving, driving, sometimes to parts unknown, the wind in your hair and the sun in your eyes. Long haul truckers know the roads best and they're used to an often solitary lifestyle. They often seem very self-assured, always knowing where they're going at any given moment. But what happens when you see something while on the road that you think you shouldn't have?

After Redditor lukasday88 asked the online community, "Truck drivers, what's a creepy story you've got from the middle of nowhere?" people shared their experiences.

Keep reading... Show less
You May Also Like
Hi friend— subscribe to my mailing list to get inbox updates of news, funnies, and sweepstakes.
—George Takei