Jason Krupat never imagined that an episode of Expedition Unknown would send him on the treasure hunt of a lifetime with explorer Josh Gates. When the Boston puzzle and game designer's children first called him in to watch a special on Byron Preiss' "The Secret," a puzzle that has remained unsolved since 1982, it was the start of an adventure that would mark the Krupats' place in history, and fans Discovery series will get to see it all come to a thrilling conclusion on Wednesday's season finale of Expedition Unknown. Ahead of the finale, Krupat and Gates talked to PopCulture.com about the adventure that seems straight out of a storybook.
Tracking down the 12 treasures of "The Secret" has become an obsession for many since the New York publisher first released his book filled with cryptic verses, which when paired with specific paintings, lead to secret locations in a different North American city where he had buried ceramic casques inside a plexiglass box. Inside the casque, is a key that can be exchanged for a jewel worth $1,000.
Until 2019, only two of the boxes had ever been found, one a year after the book was published by three teens in Chicago's Grant Park and the second 21 years later by two friends in the Greek Cultural Garden in Cleveland. In 2005, Preiss died in a car crash, taking the only solutions to the puzzle with him.
It was just last year that Gates took on the secret of "The Secret" in an Expedition Unknown special, which spurred Krupat's wife and two kids to join him in exploring their Boston home for the treasure they would eventually find in Langone Park in an active construction zone, thanks to "a little bit of luck" and "a little skill."
"This is never something we expected to uncover," Krupat told PopCulture.com. "We never actually expected we'd find it. For us, it was more about the journey than the destination."
Gates first heard tell that Expedition Unknown had sparked a possibly successful treasure hunt after Krupat emailed him a photo of a shard of the casque, which he had found after asking the foreman of the construction site to let him know if they found anything strange where he suspected the treasure was located.
"We've been obsessed with 'The Secret' on Expedition Unknown for a few years now," Gates told PopCulture.com. "Like everyone, once you hear it, it gets its hooks in you."
"We received thousands and thousands of emails and letters and mad ramblings from people who think they know where the third box is," he continued, recalling Krupat's message "jumped to the head of the line" with the photo of the ceramic material Gates recognized from his previous research.
"My jaw dropped when I saw that email," he said, adding he had wondered if another box would ever be found, let alone so soon after the special aired. Making his way to Boston immediately, Gates was able to witness the triumphant moment in which the Krupat family unearthed their buried treasure, right where they thought it would be.
It was the "thrill of a lifetime" for Krupat's two kids, 10 and 12, but not the end of their obsession with Preiss' treasure hunt, as he hinted they "have some idea" where to find the fourth box. Even if they never uncover another key again, however, Krupat values the time he spent with his family, getting away from technology and working to solve a puzzle "through a traditional lens."
"As we were doing these searches, we weren't on our devices, we were out exploring," he noted, with Gates chiming in of Preiss' intentions, "I think his is a message about being out here and having an adventure and having fun. ...It's a game that's meant to draw you out into the world."
In Wednesday's season finale, Expedition Unknown fans will be "riding shotgun" in the final days of the successful treasure hunt, Gates assured: "I think that viewers are going to have an incredible adventure and be along for the ride."
Don't miss the thrilling season finale of Expedition Unknown, airing Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 9 p.m. ET on Discovery.
Photo credit: Discovery Channel