Someone Won a Tropical Resort in a Raffle, and Has Run the Place for Six Years
In 2016, the owners of a resort in Micronesia decided they were ready to retire. Doug and Sally Beitz had spent 20 years building up and running the Nautilus Resort on a tropical island. It had been a good life, but they were ready to return to their home of Australia to be closer to their grandchildren.
The obvious choice was to sell the place to some big international chain. But they didn’t do that. Instead, they raffled it off, selling 75,000 tickets at $49 each. This would bring them a total of $3.675 million, which is presumably a fair bit less than the value of an entire commercially successful resort, but it was enough to retire on. And instead of turning their place over to a giant company that would stamp its own identity on it, the couple relished the idea of it going to someone young and dumb, like they’d once been. If the winner knew nothing about hotel management, so what? That’s a skill anyone can learn.
People worldwide bought tickets. The winners ended up being Australian just like the Beitzs, two friends in their 20s, Josh and Nick. When Josh first heard about the raffle, he knew a 1-in-75,000 chance of winning is stunningly good odds — as lottery odds go at least. He finally learned he’d won from a phone call he got when he was in a pub.
Now, if we wrote this as fiction, it would have to end in tragedy. The winner could not be allowed to be happy, and he must suffer for believing he ever could be. Maybe he immediately runs the resort into the ground and somehow ends up even poorer than before. Maybe he discovers that managing a resort is actually a miserable life, because every day means dealing with White Lotus-style jerks. Maybe he suddenly and randomly dies, perhaps bitten by a yellow-bellied sea snake.
None of that happened, though. Josh moved to the Micronesian island of Kosrae, became manager of the Nautilus Resort, and unless the place’s website is lying to us, he’s still happily running it today.
The only hiccup we suppose he had to deal with was how to foot the tax bill on receiving a multimillion-dollar resort as a prize. But if anyone could figure that out, we imagine Josh could. After all, before winning the raffle, he was a tax accountant.
For some windfalls that don’t end so well, check out: