Sum up this story with whichever word you like: Luck. Foresight. Jealousy. In early 2015, Eric Martin spent $18,000 in a bid to win a contest being offered by the new startup Jet.com: Sign up the highest number of people for a preview version of the site, get 100,000 stock options. CNN Money reported that the then-28-year-old funneled money to sites like Swagbucks, getting people to sign up in exchange for rewards. More than 8,000 signups later, he was the winner. And how. With Walmart's Monday announcement of its $3.3 billion acquisition of Jet.com, the man from York, Pa., will likely reap a seven-figure windfall, reports Bloomberg.
"The way I think to describe it is ‘occasional hysterical laughing," the 30-year-old says of his reaction. Reports at the time of his win put the potential value of the shares at up to $20 million, but CNBC reports Martin doesn't know the value of his shares, and Bloomberg explains how that number could be higher or lower due to changes in valuation or the distribution of preferential shares. At the time of his win, he told CNN Money, "I bought some snow crab legs to celebrate, but that's about it." He was equally low-key for Fox43: "I’d consider myself middle class so I have everything I need." Soon, he'll have that plus a pile of cash. He's not alone: The New York Business Journal reported that those who finished the contest in slots 2 through 10 got 10,000 options apiece. (This guy, meanwhile, might be the unluckiest man in tech.)