Man Becomes Overnight Millionaire After Selling 'Worthless' Blanket for $1.5 Million

One man saved his own life by selling a rare $1.5 million blanket he'd thought was worthless from CNBC.

A California man became a “rags to riches” story after he walked into an auction with $200 to his name and left 77 seconds later a millionaire.

Loren Krytzer had been living in a friend’s shack after a major car accident in 2007 left him with years of physical and financial struggles.

The accident forced him to have his left foot amputated, putting an end to his career as a carpenter and leaving him to rely on disability checks. With just $200 left over from his monthly checks, money became so tight that Kratzer sent his children to live with their grandparents in Louisiana, he told CNBC’s Zack Guzman.

"I mean, what do you do? I had kids to take care of, no money, you know? Nothing saved up or nothing like that," he said.

Though he was struggling, Krytzer saw a glimmer of hope in 2001 when he watched an episode of Antiques Roadshow. On the episode, a man was shocked to learn that his First Phase Navajo blanket was actually worth about $500,000, according to Native American gallery owner and collector Don Ellis.

As Krytzer watched the scene, he remembered that his great-grandmother had given him a similar-looking blanket years back.

“I paused it and I went and got the blanket and I’m sitting there holding it,” he recalled. “I’m lining up the lines on the TV with the blanket, seeing if they match.”

After watching the Roadshow, he thought his blanket could be worth a few grand if it was real, but his family didn’t share his optimistic spirit. His mother said he wouldn’t even get $10 for the textile, which his grandmother once used to catch kittens from her pregnant cat.

Krytzer went to antique dealers, but they turned him away, telling him he only had a standard Mexican blanket on hand. As a last resort, he took the blanket to John Moran Auctioneers in Monrovia, California.

After he chronicled the history of the piece — piecing together how the blanket was passed down in his family starting with his great-great-grandfather John Chantland in 1800s — the blanket went to auction in June 2012.

The blanket sold for $1.5 million to Antiques Roadshow appraiser Don Ellis, who appraised the blanket Krytzer saw a year before.

“They had to bring over water and stuff to me and wipe sweat off my head,” he said. “I started hyperventilating because I couldn’t believe it… Everything just went limp and I couldn’t catch my breath.”

Since then, Krytzer bought two homes, a Dodge Challenger SRT8 customized by West Coast Customs (the team on MTV’s Pimp My Ride), and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle — things he thought he’d never own.

“Everybody loves a rags to riches story,” he laughed. Still, he said money isn’t everything.

"I mean, I have a home, a beautiful home, and several cars, but I'd give anything to still be working," he said. "Sitting around even if you're in a nice home or you're living in a shack, you're sitting around bored doing nothing."