10 Of The Most Bizarre Ways That Ordinary People Got Rich

10. Richard T. James

While serving as a mechanical engineer in the navy, Richard T. James was working on creating a type of spring that would support equipment during bad weather on ships. One of the experimental springs fell from a shelf and ‘walked’ across the table and floor, inspiring James to investigate further and create the toy known as the Slinky. Using a $500 loan, James went on to develop a machine to coil the steel into the correct shape so that he could mass produce the product. After a popular demonstration at Gimbels Department Store (during the Christmas season), it sold out almost instantly. The company then grew to such an extent that more than 300 million Slinkys have been produced and sold in total across the world.
10. Richard T. James

9. David Cheriton

For all intents and purposes, David Cheriton looks like any other professor. The 63-year-old Canadian born billionaire though, has made a vast amount of money despite the fact that he has primarily been employed to teach computer science of Stanford University since 1981. His estimated net worth of $3.3 billion has been amassed in a unique way, the professor would invest in the ideas and business plans of students at the University, helping them to get off the ground before later selling his shares for huge profits. While he has had modest success with a variety of investment, his single biggest winner came when Larry Page and Sergey Brin pitched their idea for Google to Cheriton, who went on to invest $100,000 in the company. That initial investment is now worth more than $1 billion on its own.
9. David Cheriton

8. Rick Schwartz

Rick Schwartz first had the idea of registering potentially popular domain names in 1995. He went on to acquire the registrations for several website names that he thought would be popular in search engines, and then placed advertisements on them. These sites began to bring in a modest income, however Schwartz also realized that there was money to be made in not just sitting on domain names to advertising revenue, but also in selling them on. Since 1995, the American born entrepreneur has sold 20 domain names for more than $500,000. These include properties such as Men.com for $1.3 million and Candy.com for $3 million, that he had originally bought for prices just above $10,000 in 1997. Other deals have included the sale of iReport.com to CNN for $750,000, a domain he had originally registered for just $100.
8. Rick Schwartz

7. Gary Dahl

While in a bar listening to his friends complain about the hassle created by their pets and the sheer amount of effort required to look after them, he came up with the idea that a rock would be the perfect pet. It would require no grooming, feeding, walking and would not be expensive to keep, as it would not get sick and require trips to the vet. While his friends laughed off the idea as a joke, Dahl took it seriously and started to develop the product. Using his experience in advertising, the Pet Rock was created. It came with a collectible box, instruction manual and arrived on a bed of hay. The Pet Rock became a huge fad (even while only lasting a year and half) and Dahl became a millionaire thanks to the fact that more than one million of the ‘pets’ were sold.
7. Gary Dahl

6. Jason Sadler

Jason Sadler founded the website iwearyourshirt.com in 2009, in order to try to sell a rather unique service to companies and businesses. In exchange for a fee, Sadler would wear the company’s T-shirt for the entire day. Prices started at $1 for January 1st, $2 for January 2nd, all the way up to $365 for December 31. This allowed him to make more than $80,000 in his first year, so Sadler doubled his prices and hired several people to wear shirts to further increase the availability of the service and bring in more cash. By 2012, the service was bringing in several hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
6. Jason Sadler

5. Chad Mureta

Chad Mureta was a real estate agent who was involved in a road traffic collision in 2009. While in hospital for six months recovering from the serious injuries he had received from the car crash, he noticed that the doctors were able to access his iPhone and came up with the idea of creating a fingerprint scanning app to add some extra security to smartphones. He found a developer online who was willing to make the app for a quote of $1,800. Putting the cost on his step-dad’s credit card, he launched the program on the App Store where it eventually became a huge success, bringing in more than $620,000. His time in hospital also allowed him to go through thousands of apps, see what worked and develop further ideas that he could fund with the money he made from his first app and make millions of dollars.
5. Chad Mureta

4. Eric Lawes

In 1992, Eric Lawes was asked by a friend to use his metal detector to search for a lost hammer. While out looking for the tool, Lawes stumbled across a collection of silver and bronze coins, jewelry and other items that dated back thousands of years. Unfortunately, laws in the United Kingdom does not allow anyone who finds a treasure trove to just keep it for themselves. Instead, the treasure becomes the property of the state, specifically the Crown, and is usually displayed in a museum for the public to see. The law does dictate though, that the government must pay a fair price to the finder, using the market value as a standard. That meant that Lawes and the farmer who owned the land got to split almost $3 million between the two of them.
4. Eric Lawes

3. Phil Ozersky

Phil Ozersky was attending the baseball game at Busch Stadium when Mark McGwire made his 70th home run. Out of the more than 40,000 people in attendance, the ball headed straight towards Ozersky and a co-worker, with the ball bouncing out of the hands of his colleague and into his. After refusing to hand the ball over to overzealous team officials, he auctioned the ball for just over $3 million. With the money he got from selling the ball, Ozersky built a home that his handicapped father could live in and would allow both of his parents to retire comfortably. Some also went on a new house for his family and the genetic researcher also made several six figure donations to various charities.
3. Phil Ozersky

2. Anonymous Artwork Finder

The anonymous man bought the painting along with some old furniture for around $30, as he had been looking for a nice picture to cover an annoying hole on the wall for some time. Unaware that the work looked anything like the product of painter Martin Johnson Heade, the Indiana man simply hung it on his wall and forgot about it. That is until he was playing a game board game that featured a painting similar to his. After conducting some research, he took the painting to the Kennedy Galleries located in Manhattan who authenticated it as a genuine Heade artwork. The painting, now known as Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth, was sold to the Museum of Fine Arts for $1.25 million, in 1999.
2. Anonymous Artwork Finder

1. Guy Laliberte

Guy Laliberte was a street performer who was living rough in Canada when he came up with the idea of creating a traveling circus. Gathering other street performers he knew, he managed to co-found the Cirque du Soleil after getting a grant from the local government. Cirque du Soleil is now arguably the world’s most famous and successful circus. It has spread to have offices and performers in major cities around the world, employs more than 4,000 workers and during its lifetime, brought in crowds of more than 90 million in total worldwide. The show is so successful that its revenue regularly exceeds $800 million every year, and has given Laliberte as estimated net work that exceeds $1.8 billion.
1. Guy Laliberte