A plumber working at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston made quite the discovery earlier in November. According to NBC News, envelopes full of cash and checks were discovered behind a loose toilet. The plumber detailed the discovery during an appearance on 100.3 The Bull in the city, a country radio station's morning show.
"There was a loose toilet in the wall, and we removed the tile," the person told the radio station, confirmed by NBC affiliate KPRC. "We went to go remove the toilet, and I moved some insulation away and about 500 envelopes fell out of the wall, and I was like 'Oh wow!'"
The one you've been waiting for: A plumber was working on a toilet at Joel Osteen’s church. Five hundred envelopes of cash and checks fell out of the wall.https://t.co/OMvlahfSWe— Michelle Boorstein (@mboorstein) December 3, 2021
While there was no indication on the total sum hidden behind the toilet, but many are pointing to a 2014 theft of cash and checks from the church's safe. Church officials confirmed the plumber's discovery, while the total stolen in 2014 would total $600,000 if this is the same bit.
"Recently, while repair work was being done at Lakewood Church, an undisclosed amount of cash and checks were found. Lakewood immediately notified the Houston Police Department and is assisting them with their investigation," a church representative told KPRC.
The 7-year-old theft case is still open with Houston Police and the money was turned in to the money to a maintenance supervisor. The caller to the radio show stirred up plenty of interest with the hosts, with host George Lindsey questioning the situation. "Don't you want to know what happened, I mean they stole the money, but they didn't get it out of the wall. Did they have an accident, you know what I mean? It's like, why did they never go back? If it's that money, why did they never go back?," the host asked. "If he never had been doing that work behind that toilet, they would have never known that money was there."
Osteen has been questioned by the police over the discovery, along with past criticism of the televangelist's extreme wealth. A 2020 revelation that Lakewood was awarded a $4.4 million federal loan for COVID relief only helped stoke complaints, with many pointing to Osteen's home and Ferrari. An appearance on the Today Show would follow with Osteen urging viewers to avoid focusing on "what [they] have or don't have."
Many questions remain over the money and its connection to the initial theft. The plumber will receive no reward money, though, and the statute of limitations on the theft has ended.