My favorite stories in the world are when regular, unassuming people become unexpected millionaires. Such is the story of Eric Martin, a York, Pennsylvania man who is now worth millions after Jet.com sold to Walmart for an estimated $3.3 billion. According to Business Insider, Martin was previously “an ancillary product specialist at a pre-need funeral insurance company.” I’d hate to speak for him, but probably doesn’t have to worry about going to work for a couple month now that he’s a multi-millionaire.
Last year Martin entered a contest to drive referrals to Jet.com’s membership-model system. The father-of-two ended up spending about $18,000 in Facebook ads, along with advertising on Swagbucks.com and GiftHulk.com which encourage site sign-ups, according to BI. He received 100,000 options in Jet.com as a result, which today converted to something truly valuable thanks to the Walmart acquisition.
Martin heard about the company’s mission and the Jet Insiders program after reading a profile of founder Marc Lore in Businessweek. Like Amazon, the site will sell just about everything — but it promises its prices will ultimately be 10 to 15% lower than they are anywhere else. In exchange, people will pay a $50 annual membership fee. It’s like Costco, but online.
Martin knew how obsessed people are with Costco, and how well the membership model works, so he started trying to figure out what he would have to do to win the contest.
“I could have spent much less money to just get into the top ten,” he says. “But I realized that being the winner, with 10 times more stock, was within my grasp.”
Last year Fusion estimated that Eric’s stake of 100,000 shares could be worth between $10 million – 20 million. That’s probably the best $18,000 ever spent. And the stroke of business luck/genius sounds like it couldn’t have happened to a better dude:
Eric Martin is not a greedy start-up bro, nor an inveterate gambler who can’t resist a sweepstakes. He’s a modest, soft-spoken 28-year-old who lives in York, Pennsylvania, a city of 40,000 located roughly 25 miles south of Harrisburg. He has a wife, two young girls, and a job as an “ancillary product specialist” for Golden Considerations, a funeral insurance company. (Basically, he’s the IT guy.) His life is stable but unglamorous. He plays online poker, but not for money. He goes to church on Sundays. He ran for Congress in his district in 2012, but lost in the Republican primary, finishing with only 3.3 percent of the votes.
Business Insider caught up with Martin following the exciting news. Turns out he has no big plans, sans a big night of snow crabs for supper.
Martin says that he has no big celebration plans today, besides perhaps buying some snow crab legs to eat with his family for dinner. He doesn’t know yet what he’ll do with the money long-term. either, but says he’s already received a couple of texts joking that he’ll need to get a new security system.
“I’ve told my wife in the past that someday we’ll go to Thailand again, because she grew up there, so now that will definitely happen eventually,” he says. “Our kids are one and three right now, so it’s kind of awkward timing. Other than that, I’ll have to think about it.”
Martin also recently launched a startup called IdeaDash, which helps people crowdfund ideas that they personally don’t want to work on. He’s excited to keep hustling away on that.
Enjoy those snow crabs, Eric. You earned them for striking on opportunity when you saw it knocking on your door. And best of luck with IdeaDash.