Man who can't work due to disability says $100K Calgary treasure hunt win 'doesn't feel real'
Jeff Lerue hasn't been able to work for two years, and says the Gold Hunt win makes a big difference
A treasure hunt that sent Calgarians scurrying around the city in search of a reported $100,000 prize has come to an end.
The treasure, hidden by a company called Gold Hunt, was found by Edmontonian Jeff Lerue, who has been off work due to a disability for two years, waiting for a knee replacement
"This couldn't have come at a better time for me," said Lerue in a news release. "I was just denied AISH."
The company behind the hunt buried gold and silver pieces it valued at $100,000 and charged would-be treasure hunters $25 for a map with clues or $45 for a package that included five additional clues.
"It still doesn't feel real," Lerue said during a news conference on Wednesday.
Edmonton hunt over quickly
Lerue said after he heard Edmonton's treasure was found within 20 hours of the start of the contest on Saturday, he decided to buy a map for Calgary's hunt.
He doesn't know Calgary that well, so on Monday, he and his girlfriend spent hours puzzling through the clues and poring over Google Maps.
Then on Tuesday, once they had an idea of where to start, they drove down to Calgary.
"We scoured until pretty much dark last night," he said.
"Some of the clues kind of jumped out at us."
Lerue noticed a ton of people searching in one neighbourhood, but there was one secluded area they were passing by.
"So I thought, it's just odd that people aren't going there … and sure enough that's where it was."
Lerue has promised not to reveal where he found the prize until Vancouver's hunt wraps up, as to not give any hints as to how the clues work, but he said when he found the prize in its hiding spot he was over the moon.
"I freaked out … I dropped the box and was like, 'oh my god,'" he said, adding that the box contained instructions to claim the prize.
"I was like, let's go, let's go. We beelined to our truck and just took off."
Lerue said he plans to use the money to pay bills and debt he's accrued while being off work, and take his girlfriend on a much-deserved vacation.
Some hiccups in inaugural treasure hunt
Chris Cromwell, Gold Hunt's spokesperson, said the inaugural scavenger hunts were a big learning experience — and that the company hopes to roll it out nationwide.
"This is our first run," he said.
"We've done our best to host a safe, fun, exciting and romantic treasure hunt."
There were some hiccups, with members of the hunt disregarding the game's rules by digging up flower beds and rifling through private property.
"Obviously, it's not our intention to create anything that's going to damage public or private property," Cromwell said.
"We've done our best, I think, to make sure people are doing the right thing."
While the treasure has been found, one thing will stay secret for now — the identity of the Gold Hunt team.
Cromwell said the group of friends, who are entrepreneurs and private investors, came up with the idea of the hunt just 60 days ago, and that they intend to stay anonymous for now.
With files from Sarah Rieger