Origins: A common form of "instant wealth" legend involves a person who receives a large, unexpected inheritance from a wealthy benefactor — someone with whom the recipient has had only brief, incidental contact, but during that fleeting moment performed a kindness later rewarded in spades. Examples of this motif include the tale of a man who engages in a one-night stand with the widowed owner of a country inn and several months later finds out she has left him both the inn and a tidy sum of money in her will, and the legend of the traveler who casually stumbles upon a stranger's funeral and afterwards learns that the deceased was a wealthy man who decreed that his fortune should be divided among all those who attended his final services.
That stories of this ilk are familiar urban legends doesn't mean they don't occasionally play out in real life, however. One such case occurred in 1951, when Margaret Jorgenson, a divorced dressmaker from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, died at the age of 66 and left behind a will bequeathing her entire estate, valued at the then-considerable sum of $97,864 (roughly equivalent to $875,000 in today's dollars) to one Joseph Kogut.
Who was Joseph Kogut? He was an unmarried, 41-year-old
Before Miss Jorgenson died several months later, she made out a will naming
Last updated: 23 May 2013
The New York Times. "Woman Left $40,000 to Friend of 4 Hours." 13 November 1954 (p. 9). Traverse City Record-Eagle. "Visited Four Hours at $10,000 per Hour." 11 November 1954 (p. 10).