After A Guy Bought A Locker For $500, He Discovered Millions Hidden In A Safe Inside

For some people on the planet, there are few activities more rewarding than bargain hunting. Dan Dotson can certainly attest to this, as he and his wife, Laura, have auctioned off a number of different items throughout the years. However, in November 2018 the auctioneer shared an incredible story about a man who bought a storage unit for $500.

Born in November 1962, Dan took a real interest in auctioneering as a youngster. And this curiosity was stoked by Sam Fancher, his granddad, who operated out of Arkansas. Following some work as an apprentice in the 1940s, Fancher eventually became an auctioneer himself, specializing in farms and livestock.

As a result, Fancher began to impart some of this wisdom to his grandson. Dan was undoubtedly encouraged by this input, and ultimately, this wealth of knowledge inspired him to make a big decision. Indeed, during his summer breaks from high school, the boy worked alongside his grandparent in Arkansas, picking up some valuable experience. This growing passion wasn’t curbed when school started back up again, however.

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During Dan’s teenage years, he missed out on a number of classes in order to pursue his auctioneering dream. In these instances, the youngster even made his way to Chino, California, selling household items at the local auction. Off the back of this initiative, in fact, things really picked up for the young auctioneer in the 1980s.

What’s more, Dan was put in charge of a facility that sold a variety of items, such as furniture, dolls and pottery, in Riverside, CA. In 1983, though, everything changed for the auctioneer. That year, you see, he founded his own company named American Auctioneers. And the move elevated his career to the next level.

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Indeed, alongside Dan’s continued work in Riverside, he went on to start a number of other companies to boot. And the auctioneer kept this entrepreneurial spirit up throughout the next decade. But his personal life took a significant turn in the mid-1990s. During that period, after all, he was introduced to his future wife, Laura Payton.

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Born in May of 1968, Laura grew up in California’s Thousand Oaks, harboring the same interest as her future husband. At the back end of the 1980s, she also began her career in the auctioning sector, which therefore led her to meet Dan in 1996. Some time after that encounter, the pair eventually got married.

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Furthermore, Dan and Laura also became business partners, with the latter taking on some important positions at American Auctioneers. She was named both the manager and co-owner of the company, leading to a significant development. Thanks to the California native, her husband’s business now runs more than 3,000 auctions each year.

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Away from their occupations, Dan and Laura are the proud parents of a son, while the former also has two more children from a previous relationship. The couple’s lives, however, took another interesting turn in December 2010. At this point, the duo joined the cast of a new reality show titled Storage Wars.

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Storage Wars captures the exploits of groups of people competing to buy storage spaces at auctions. The units, which by this point are in default due to unpaid rent, still contain a number of items from the prior owners. With this concept in mind, both Dan and Laura act as the auctioneer, sharing the position between them.

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The show was a huge success on the A&E Network. Indeed, over five million viewers tuned in for the second season opener in July 2011. And by March 2018 Storage Wars had reached the end of its 11th season, maintaining the services of Dan and Laura along the way. During that period, though, the former unfortunately suffered a major health scare.

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In June 2014 Dan passed out while taking a shower at home, having told Laura that he didn’t feel well earlier that morning. And after calling an ambulance for her husband, the California native then gave him CPR before paramedics arrived. A short time later, it was discovered that the auctioneer had fallen victim to not one, but two aneurysms.

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Thankfully for Dan, he made a full recovery from that incident after undergoing an operation. At this point, the lucky individual decided to give up smoking and live a healthier lifestyle, with one of his sons following suit. Storage Wars covered some of that dramatic period during the fifth season, capturing the auctioneer in hospital.

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Meanwhile, ahead of Storage Wars’ 12th season in November 2018, Dan shared a remarkable story about a recently purchased unit. It all started at a charity function held in Indio, CA. “An older Asian woman at the table next to me kept looking at me like she wanted to tell me something,” he recalled to The Blast.

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With that premise in mind, Dan then went into greater detail via a video on his Facebook page, explaining what happened next. “This lady came [up] to me, and she says, ‘I want to tell you this story,’” he reveals. “‘My husband works for a guy, and he bought a unit from you, and it had a safe in it.’”

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“The first person that they called to open the safe I guess couldn’t or didn’t [open it],” Dan continues. “They [then called] the second person. Inside the safe, normally they’re empty, but this time it wasn’t empty. It had $7.5 million [in] cash inside.” The video then cuts to a shot of some of that money on a table.

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In a remarkable twist, Dan had sold that man the unit for just $500, seemingly unaware of what was hidden inside. However, the surprises didn’t end there, as the story took another turn. After finding the money, the buyer was apparently contacted by a stranger over the telephone regarding the discovery.

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“They got a phone call, mysteriously, from an attorney representing the folks that lost the money and the goods from inside the unit,” Dan relays. “[The original owners] offered $600,000, and then they doubled it to $1.2 million. They gave them $1.2 million in exchange [for the cash]. I guess they gave back $6.3 million.”

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From there, the video cuts back to another shot of the money inside a kit bag before showing several stacks of cash piled up in a bathroom. Laura appears over Dan’s shoulder at this point and asks a tricky question. “What would you do with all that money?” she queries with a grin.

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“I mean come on now,” Laura states. “I know what I’d do.” With this dilemma in mind, Dan follows his wife’s lead and poses a tough question himself. “Would you give it back?” the Storage Wars star asks. “Or would you keep it and run for the hills? Would you look over your shoulder? What would you do?”

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On that note, Laura tries to put herself in the position of the people that found the $7.5 million. In her mind, the decision would’ve been somewhat easy due to the sheer amount of cash in the safe. “I’d feel so worried, I don’t feel like it would be clean money,” the California native explains.

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However, Laura shares that her stance would change given one particular condition. “If they were offering it to me, then I would say, ‘Alright then,’” she admits. “They washed it, they made it clean, and I’ll accept that $1.2 million and just be happy.” At this point, Dan humorously prompts a bit of clarification from his wife.

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“It’s not ‘washing’ it; it’s not like literally laundering money!” Laura responds to Dan. “What I’m talking about is they gave you their approval. They said ‘take the money’ in good conscience, and they can wipe their hands of it. Now I don’t feel like it’s dirty money anymore.”

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Off the back of that explanation, Dan then queries if Laura would ask the owners any questions regarding the money. “I wouldn’t ask a damn thing!” she replies rather emphatically. The auctioneer couldn’t help but agree with his spouse’s response before putting himself in the position of the people who had found the cash.

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“I wouldn’t ask any questions, either,” Dan agrees. “Personally, I think I would probably just weigh everything out. You know, $7.5 million is a lot of money, but that’s a lot of running too! I don’t like to look over my shoulder. I’d be very curious how they ever [found out my identity].”

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Dan then expands on that latter musing, explaining why he’d be so interested. “At American Auctioneers, we never give out anybody’s name,” he points out. “We never give out anybody’s number, but it does happen. And, you know, a lot of money like that would motivate a lot of people!”

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From there, Dan makes another interesting point on the matter. “I don’t think you would forget that you have, you know, $7.5 million inside of a unit,” the auctioneer muses. “I don’t think you’d forget it, but maybe you were just in a position where somebody else was in charge of it.”

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At this point, Laura interjects with some potential explanations of her own regarding the original owners of the unit. “[Maybe their] credit card went bad, it was finished,” she ponders. “They moved away, [or] perhaps the person went to jail. Who knows what it was? But you know, it happens all the time.”

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“This is the modern day treasure hunt,” Laura adds. “And you know, Storage Wars was just right there at the tip of it.” On that note, Dan plugs the new season of the reality show, thus bringing his video to an end. He posted the clip on his Facebook page in November 2018, which brought about an intriguing response from online users.

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Indeed, Dan’s post earned over 100 likes and generated several comments from social media users – who continued the discussion. Much like the auctioneer and his spouse, most of those people tried to put themselves in the shoes of the individuals who discovered the $7.5 million. On that front, though, opinions were very divided.

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“Wow, $7.5 million,” wrote Facebook user Cherie Phillips in the comments section. “I’d have to give it back too. It wouldn’t feel right any other way. Sometimes I wish I was that person who could just take the money and run. I’d have to give it back. I would feel too guilty.”

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However, fellow user Kimberly O’Connor didn’t agree with that sentiment, revealing what she would’ve done in the situation. “I would have said I donated the safe to Goodwill and live comfortably,” she wrote. “Karma was that they should have paid the [storage unit] bill.” The Facebook commenter didn’t stop there, though.

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“If the unit was sold, what’s inside is now forfeited to the buyer,” O’Connor added. “They had that money but couldn’t pay the storage fee. It’s a wrap, it’s then the buyer’s choice.” Meanwhile, another Facebook user questioned why a cash sum that large was in a storage unit to begin with.

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Yes, social media user Laurie D. Rottman queried certain elements of the account. “If you have $7.5 million in a storage locker, why would you lose the locker in the first place?” she wrote. “Who in their right mind keeps money, especially that kind of money, in storage? Unbelievable.” This fiery debate wasn’t just raging on Facebook, though.

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Dan shared the story about the $7.5 million on Twitter as well, recapping the video in a tweet. Plus, he posted some images of the money alongside the question, “What would you do?” The auctioneer’s message earned over 500 likes and close to 240 retweets on the social media website.

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Meanwhile, Dan’s tweet generated close to 450 comments from online users, continuing the conversation. “If you have $7.5 million sitting in a locker and don’t pay the locker fees, you deserve to lose it all,” wrote one Twitter user. “It was probably laundered money. I’d pay Dan and Laura $100k for being awesome and keep the rest.”

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Those sentiments were shared by another user, who made a humorous suggestion. “If I bought a unit and it had $7.5 million in, I would have done the right thing and reported all $3 million of it,” they wrote in the comments section. Elsewhere, someone explained why they would’ve accepted the $1.2 million in exchange.

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“I’d take the $1.2 million,” stated the Twitter user. “I’d make sure that $1.2 million was [taken] home. I’m thinking you wouldn’t wanna p*** off the people that have $7.5 million in cash in a storage locker. Just saying.” While there were many different opinions on social media, the discussion spilled over to YouTube as well.

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Dan then posted his Facebook video to YouTube, with the story subsequently reaching a larger audience as a result. That’s right: the clip earned over 415,000 views and more than 570 likes on the website, while also generating close to 400 comments. And much like before, moreover, people had some interesting takes on the tale.

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However, one user put forward an alternative theory. “Sounds fishy as hell. The first person wouldn’t open it up,” they wrote on YouTube. “So, he sends his buddy to open it. His buddy confirms the amount. Then, the first guy calls and claims he’s the attorney and takes $5 million.”

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