PLAIN CITY — A group of Plain City men is watching a video they made of a Memorial Day weekend practical joke with buried treasure go viral on the Internet.
Johnny Murdock, 24, said the gag itself was fairly simple: Bury a chest filled with gold on a public beach at night, dig it up the next morning and watch the fun.
The gag was that they filled the chest with $100 worth of foil-covered chocolate coins.
They posted a video of the resulting mayhem on YouTube on Tuesday evening. By Wednesday at noon, “we’ve had a quarter-million views and it’s only been online a few hours, and I think there’s close to 5,000 likes on the channel.”
Murdock said the quartet even stands to make some real treasure off the gag. YouTube is running ads with their video, he said, and for every 1,000 views it gets, they get a dollar. “So if it gets a million views, we’ll get $10,000,” he said.
The gag started several weeks ago when one of his friends, Nick Garrett, got the idea to buy a large wooden chest, take it to Venice Beach in Los Angeles, bury it at night and dig it up the next day.
So they did, buying the chest for $100 and piling it on top of Murdock’s car. The four, Garrett, Murdock, Trent Hales and Lewis Jenkins, then drove down to Los Angeles.
“Our plan was to drive out to Venice Beach, and we chose that because I used to live there, and we knew there were a bunch of funny people that lived there,” he said.
The goal was to get a good crowd reaction.
They got to L.A. on Saturday afternoon, drove around, and finally buried the chest at the beach at 2 a.m. The four dug an 8-foot-deep pit in the sand.
On Sunday morning, he said, they went to the beach, pretended to look around with a metal detector, pretended to find something, and started digging.
“We pretend the metal detector is finding a big thing, and it starts gathering people,” he said. “The crowd starts to gather slowly, and by the time we hit the treasure with the shovel — thump! — there was a pretty big crowd. The people gathered around start screaming with excitement.
“We take our time digging around the side. We had maybe 100 to 150 people surrounding us, and we pry one of the ends of the chest lid open and we act like we’re trying as hard as we can. Somebody on the side is recording us and he saw some of the coins, he caught a glimpse and everyone was going crazy.”
At one point, one of the beach lifeguards can be seen in the video warning them to stay away from the chest, but they kept digging.
“The lifeguard leaves, and everyone starts chanting, ‘Open it! Open it!’ So we have all these different cameras recording it, and on our phones, and we go into the hole and everyone goes silent. Me and my friends flip the lid open all at once, quickly, and everyone sees shining, shimmering gold coins, and everyone goes crazy, and some of them start jumping in to try to steal the coins.”
Which someone did, he said. “Someone grabs it and squeezes it and says, ‘It’s chocolate!’ and the crowd started chanting, ‘Its chocolate!’ ”
Murdock said he and his friends already have other ideas for similar pranks that they hope to film and put up on YouTube.
What happened to the gold? They passed it around to whoever wanted it. And the chest itself?
It’s buried again, in the same spot.
“It dented the roof of my car,” Murdock said, so he didn’t want to bring it home.
But other than that, he said he has no regrets.
“It was a blast, and we tricked everybody on Venice Beach. It was a blast.”