A man from Colorado found a gold ticket to win. He passed on the ownership of a candy factory.

Andrew Maas was in Kansas and had his golden ticket in sight. But someone else held it. “I found it!” called a woman.

Maas was 30 seconds late.

The 39-year-old father of two from Colorado Springs had entered the Gold Ticket, a scavenger hunt-like competition launched by David Klein, founder of the Jelly Belly Candy Co., which makes jelly beans. In 2020, Klein and partner Stephanie Thirtyacre went on a trip and placed 50 gold necklaces, known as “golden tickets,” in secret locations across 50 states. They solved puzzles with clues to their whereabouts and gave $ 5,000 to the treasure hunters who found each necklace.

A lover of mystery and adventure, Maas signed up to hunt for the necklaces in Colorado, Wyoming, and Kansas. He also helped his parents out hunting in South Dakota.

When Maas saw the necklace in someone else’s hands in Kansas, his hopes of victory were all but lost. He still had a chance – the search for an “ultimate” price, a necklace that would bring its lucky discoverer the key to a candy factory.

The competition was designed to mimic the story of Charlie Bucket, the kid whom the eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka named the heir to his mysterious chocolate factory in the 1964 Roald Dahl novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. After all 50 tickets had been found, the hunt for the ultimate treasure began. It could be located in one of six states using a riddle:

“Have not [an] Immediate idea for a die-hard sweetheart

We see witches nearby, two stand guard

Loosen up and search all the way to the tip of our toes

Why find a nut and walks are not an enemy “

Maas entered the competition for fun but was determined to win. But after Klein revealed the final riddle over Memorial Day weekend, the prospects looked thin. Months passed and Maas couldn’t solve it.

“It was difficult with so many countries,” Maas said later on YouTube. “It was just overwhelming.”

Realizing the hunters needed help, Klein narrowed the six states to Illinois and Indiana. At this point, Maas and his wife knew that the “treasure stubborn” Indiana Jones, the fictional archaeologist, was describing, and the treasure was in Indiana. He also suspected that the phrase “no immediate idea” had something to do with taking things slowly.

“I ran to my phone and started looking at all of the cities in Indiana to see if any of them had something to do with it, not soon or slowly,” he wrote in the Facebook post.

He saw Kokomo, Ind., And started singing the line from the Beach Boys song of the same name as the city: “We’ll get there quick and then we’ll take it slow.”

Maas then started looking for parks in Kokomo. He saw that Highland Park had two pavilions that looked like “witches” hats.

After the city and state were solved along with the second line of the puzzle, he said it was “100 [percent] confident it was in this park somewhere. ”He made his way to Kokomo, thinking he could solve the last two lines in person, he added.

He bought a Frontier Airlines flight for $ 160 that took off at 6 a.m. the next day. When he landed, Maas made his way to Highland Park and began to search. He found the statue of a bull and a sycamore maple and walked along the stream. He guessed that the last line of the riddle referred to a nut and bolt, but couldn’t find many things made of metal. Finally he came across a covered walkway that was partly made of metal.

Klein had provided a close-up photo of the location of the treasure. Maas could see from the lighting in the photo that it must have been buried on the northwest corner. So he grabbed a stick and started digging.

There was the necklace.

Maas quickly registered his number on the website, and half an hour later he received a call from Klein informing him that he owned a 4,000-square-meter confectionery factory. According to the Kokomo Tribune, the factory produces sweet edible sand called Sandy Candy.

“Are you coming to Florida to run the candy factory?” Klein asked Maas in an August 29 interview that Klein broadcast on his YouTube channel while Maas was still in the park.

“I mean, it’s a big decision,” Maas replied.

In the end, unlike Charlie Bucket, Maas decided not to inherit the candy factory, the Tribune reported. Moving his family to Florida to run a business was too big an undertaking. Instead, Maas and Klein worked out a deal in which Klein Maas handed over the factory and bought it back from him, Klein told the Washington Post. “He’s already received our check,” said Klein, refusing to give the amount.

“It’s money we didn’t have,” Maas told the tribune. “But the excitement and adventure were the real reward. The money is the sauce on top. “

About Cindy Johnson

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