10 of the Craziest Ways People Struck Gold

Pet rock

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Some People Have All the Luck

There are some wildly unexpected ways that you can win big and elevate yourself to mountainous levels of wealth. Some people strike it rich while thinking outside the box. Others act on the unshakeable gut feeling that pizza.com could be a true winner of a domain name (more on that later). Let's take a look at some of the craziest ways that people acquired their riches. 

pizza with ham and cheese

1. Purchasing Pizza.com for $20

Anyone who says that fairy tales can't play themselves out in real life has never met Chris Clark. This intuitive human being had the foresight to register the domain name pizza.com when it was just $20 in 1994.

Clark was able to enjoy a bit of financial success with the name, but it wasn't until 2008 — when he decided to contact Sedo, an online auctioneer of domain names — that he really struck it big. While the first bid was humble enough at a whopping $100, it eventually capped off at $2.6 million. Not a bad way to see just how far you can take an initial investment of $20.  

US. Dollar Background

2. Selling Pixels Online

Aptly named “The Million Dollar Homepage,” this website was conceptualized and launched online in 2005 by a student named Alex Tew. Tew sought to raise enough money for his business management studies. Clearly though, he couldn’t have planned on generating a million dollars. 

How did he do it, might you ask? The homepage itself was comprised of a million pixels that were arranged in a 1000 x 1000 pixel grid. Tew sold each block of 10 x 10 pixels for $100, totaling $1 million. After receiving a slew of publicity, the money came pouring in.

Pet Rock

3. Selling Pet Rocks

You might not assume that someone could monetize a rock in the first place, yet here we are. As it turns out, there were plenty of people out there who were more than ready to spend their hard-earned funds on pet rocks. Yes, pet rocks. 

"Pet Rock" was originally started in 1975 by an advertising executive named Gary Dahl. The various rocks were packaged in customized cardboard boxes that had their own ventilation holes, as well as straw bedding inspired by a traditional pet carrier. The Pet Rock movement went on to last around six months. By the end of his journey with the pet rocks, Dahl had sold over 1 million Pet Rocks that were priced at $4 each. 

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Young Man Looking at the View of Bow Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

4. Selling Bottled Fresh Mountain Air

What began as one big joke turned into a couple of Canadian friends — Moses Lam and Troy Paquette — putting some air from an area near Banff, Alberta, into a Ziploc bag. They then sold the bag of air on eBay for a dollar. Unfortunately, money was lost during the shipping process. 

The solution? They tried again, eventually selling the next bag of air to an American bidder for $168. Fast forward to today, and the two inventive business partners are now successfully selling upwards of a few hundred thousand dollars worth of bottled Canadian air every year. You can check them out over here, just in case you've decided you need your own bottle of fresh mountain air. 

Related: How To Make Money in One Hour: 25 Proven Ways To Boost Your Income

Large Number of Packed Bottled Drinking Water with Blue Caps
Ake Dynamic/istockphoto

5. Selling Bathwater

In 2019, Belle Delphine, an Instagram cosplay star, told her 3.9 million followers that she would be game to sell them her bathwater. Fast forward to Delphine actually going through with it, bottling up that bathwater, and then selling bottles for $30 each in her online store. The bottles were sold out in as quickly as three days. 

Folks were divided on how to feel about the whole “entrepreneurial” situation. Some people pointed out that there are folks in this world who will buy just about anything. Plus, you've got to consider the literal insanity of purchasing bottled bathwater that you can't actually verify is bottled bathwater in the first place. To each their own.

Related: 35 Hobbies That Make Money and Can Turn Into Legit Jobs

Pluto Planet in Space 3D Illustration

6. Selling Plots of Land From Planets Across The Milky Way

The man's name is Dennis Hope, and he's a prime example of someone who has the whole thinking-outside-the-box thing down to a science. You wouldn't assume that you'd be able to sell pieces of land from distant planets, but you would ultimately assume wrong. 

Hope, founder of the Galactic Government, claims to sell pieces of land on the moon, Mars, Mercury, and the entirety of Pluto, among other extraterrestrial sites. How has he been doing this for over three decades? In 1980, Hope sent a declaration of ownership to the United Nations that pointed out a supposed loophole present in the 1967 United Nations Outer Space Treaty. The treaty effectively forbid any country from owning planets, but Hope claimed that it never stated that individuals weren’t also eligible to own planets too. Fast forward to today, and Hope has been in business for over 30 years. 

Spoiler alert: The U.N. never replied to Hope, and a space law expert says that the treaty does indeed apply to citizens.

Woman scratching lottery ticket

7. Reenacting a Scratch-Off Win, Only To Win Again

Back in June 1998, an Australian man named Bill Morgan completely defied the odds. Specifically, Bill’s heart stopped for 14 minutes until medics on the scene were able to bring him back to life. However, he still ended up in a coma for over two weeks. After he’d successfully survived the last bit of that harrowing life chapter, Bill ended up deciding to try his luck with a scratch-off card. 

Well, he ended up winning a new car. When the news of his win spread to a local Melbourne TV station, the TV crew asked Bill to reenact his victorious moment for the camera with another new scratch-off card. This is where there was some kind of glitch in the matrix, because in the viral clip, Bill can be seen facing the cameras saying that he just won $250,000. Clearly, the man had some good energy working for him. 

Two young goats and one buck poses to camera
Linas Toleikis/istockphoto

8. Renting Goats

If you’ve ever been around goats, you know that they have insatiable appetites. It’s insane. Invite a crew of goats to check out a large plot of land for a fun afternoon, and they will mow that grass down with reckless abandon. So it’s no wonder that one might be inspired to start their own rent-a-goat business. 

HireGoats.com reports that companies across the country will rent out goats for a variety of tasks, from getting rid of invasive plants to creating fire breaks. Angi states on their site that it’ll usually run you anywhere between $400 to $800 per acre to rent a goat. You can imagine how that rate could translate to generating quite a bit of money very quickly.

Boy writes a letter to Santa Clause

9. Sending Out Caring Return Letters From Santa

While the motivation itself was rooted in making money, this one still pulls on the heart strings a bit. In 2001, Byron Reese, an entrepreneur and technologist, decided to lock in an address in North Pole, Alaska. He then launched SantaMail.org, and whenever kids would wishfully send their letters to Santa to Reese’s address, he’d respond with customized letters from Santa. 

Reese makes money on the venture by charging all the kids’ parents for Santa's response. He was reportedly able to sell 10,000 letters during his first year alone, and eventually grew his business into generating upwards of a million dollars in the first couple of years.

Pyramid of perfect snowballs on snow outdoors, closeup
Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

10. Shipping Snow

After reading about people becoming wealthy by selling bottled air, bathwater, and even pet rocks, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that someone could make money selling snow. In 2015, when Boston was hit with a massive blizzard, Jessica and Kyle Waring were ready to seize the moment. 

Kyle stayed up all night to launch a site named ShipSnowYo.com. The site’s mission: to provide interested customers with snow when they otherwise wouldn’t see it. Apparently, they received hundreds of orders, inviting customers to purchase six pounds of snow for $99. While they took a hiatus in 2023, the Warings promise to get back to selling "world-class snow" in 2024 — this time from northern Vermont.