Real life Willy Wonka: Man wins keys to candy factory through golden ticket treasure hunt

The man who founded the Jelly Belly brand has become a real-life Willy Wonka of sorts. He kicked off a scavenger hunt for a golden ticket that would get the winner the key to a candy factory.

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David “Candyman” Klein and his partner Stephanie Thirtyacre sprinkled tickets in every state with riddles that would help the treasure hunters zero in on the prize.

Klein does not work with Jelly Belly anymore after selling the brand around 1980, Heavy.com reported. The jelly bean company had nothing to do with the contest, according to WMAQ.

Klein now owns the candy company called Can You Imagine That Confections, WMAQ reported when he announced the treasure hunt last year.

Each state had one thousand registrants who would be whittled down to one. The lucky winner would take home $5,000.

On Memorial Day, Klein and Thirtyacre released their final riddle.

“Don’t have an instant idea, for a treasure die-hard

“We see witches nearby, two stand guard

“Go Solve and Search, as low as our toe

“Why find a nut and walks are no foe.”

Andrew Maas, a Colorado man who had registered for searches in multiple states, but never won, started working on the riddle, the Kokomo Tribune reported.

When no one came up with an answer, Klein started releasing additional clues to help solve the puzzle, it was all that Maas needed.

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“Treasure diehard” was Indiana Jones, so the ticket was somewhere in The Hoosier State, Maas figured.

He said he looked at cities and noticed one that had a song connection — Kokomo.

The line “Don’t have an instant idea’ reminded him of the Beach Boys song with the city’s name.

Looking at images online, he noticed a pavilion near the Vermont Covered Bridge in Highland park that look like witch’s hats that went with the line “We see witches nearby, two stand guard.”

Maas quickly bought a flight from Denver to Indianapolis once he cracked the riddle last month, the Kokomo Tribune reported.

Klein had given treasure hunters a close-up image of where the “ticket,” in this case, golden dog-tags, were buried. After 30 min climbing around the area, the sun shone on the metal tags, catching Maas’ eye.

As soon as he uncovered the ticket, he registered his find on the hunt’s website. Thirty minutes later, he received a call from Klein telling Maas he was the big winner of a candy factory — a plant in Florida that produces candy including edible sand-art sweets called Sandy Candy.

Maas though isn’t uprooting his family and moving across the country.

Instead, he and Klein are coming up with an agreement where Klein gives him the factory, then will buy it back from him, the Kokomo Tribune reported.

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