5 Items Under $5 That Made Millions

AAA

America is the country of innovation and inventions, big and small. But what about those smallest, least expensive of inventions? Here are seven products under five dollars that made a million - and in some cases, a lot more than that.

Crazy Straw

Parents know: kids can be finicky eaters and drinkers. It's a problem of the ages, and back in 1936, Denver inventor Arthur P. Gildersleeve decided to bend a straw to add interest and get kids to drink milk and juice. The simple invention is still a success, and found in stores all over the world many decades after it was first invented.

Slinky

This simple invention by Richard James got its start at Gimbel's department store in Philadelphia in 1945, and was a raging success from day one - the 400 Slinkies the store carried sold out in 90 minutes. Over 300 million Slinkies have sold since, making it a classic and inexpensive staple in most kids' rooms.

Pet Rock

It started as a joke: at a get-together with friends in 1975, Gary Dahl talked about how messy pets were, and how he preferred his pet rock. After having fun with the idea with his friends, Dahl wrote The Pet Rock Training Manual which he packed in a box along with the rock, with a $3.95 price tag - and the Pet Rock was born. What started as some fun in April was selling 10,000 Pet Rocks a day by October, making Dahl millions. It is estimated that the creator made over $15 million during the first half year of "production." The Pet Rock is now a long-forgotten fad, but this invention shows that sometimes a joke and a bit of determination can lead to a fortune.

Antenna Ball

It's hard to imagine when you see those little antenna balls, but someone made more than a million dollars off those things. Back in 1997, Jason Wall was inspired by a Jack in the Box commercial and started to design different antenna balls. He began selling them at his local California auto stores, and soon contracted with Wal-Mart to sell his antenna balls. Jason Wall became a multi-millionaire, and president and CEO of In-Concept.

Koosh Ball

Another simple ball invention that made millions is the Koosh ball, invented by Scott Stillinger in 1987. Stillinger wanted a ball that was easier to catch for his children, and he tied rubber bands together to create the soft Koosh ball. He expanded his endeavor to found his company OddzOn, which was later bought out by Russ Berrie and Company. Today, you can still buy Koosh balls for a few bucks, proving that some simple inventions stand the test of time.

Conclusion

Are you inspired? Whether your idea answers a need, like the Post-It, or a fad, like the Pet Rock, imagination can yield big bucks if you persevere. The bad news is that the odds are not in your favor as an inventor - 99.9% of inventions never see a successful product launch, so don't plan to spend your future millions just yet. The good news is that these inventors prove that you can beat those odds, with a good idea, some perseverance and a little luck.
  1. No results found.
Related Articles
  1. Small Business

    7 Products Under $5 That Made Millions

    Some of the most successful inventions were created by accident. Many of these products were never meant to see public distribution, but ended up becoming extremely popular.
  2. Small Business

    Ridiculous Ideas That Made People Millions

    These wacky inventions didn't look like the money machines they became for their creators.
  3. Insights

    Youngest Inventors To Strike It Rich

    Some of these inventors were younger than 10 years old when they came up with their practical and ingenious ideas.
  4. Small Business

    Top 5 Patent Holders

    These patent-holders may not be household names, but some of them have 10-times more patents than Thomas Edison.
  5. Investing

    Patents Are Assets, So Learn How To Value Them

    Innovation is the key to staying on top. Find out how companies protect their ideas and how to figure out how much they're worth.
  6. Small Business

    Filing A Patent

    Want to patent your invention or design? Here's a complete step-by-step guide to the process.
  7. Insights

    8 Inventions That Made Our Lives Easier

    These inventions in the fields of finance, healthcare, technology, food and energy have greatly improved our standard of living.
  8. Small Business

    Protecting Your Idea: Should You Patent It?

    At what stage of development should you patent an idea – and which ideas can you patent? Here's how to decide and what to do next.
  9. Managing Wealth

    7 Real-Life Ways To Become A Billionaire

    Find out which paths the majority of billionaires followed, and how they got there.
  10. Insights

    7 Real-Life Ways To Become A Billionaire

    How you pursue your billions is just as important as what you do. Here are some dos and don’ts to follow.
Hot Definitions
  1. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis.
  2. Money Market

    A segment of the financial market in which financial instruments with high liquidity and very short maturities are traded. ...
  3. Block (Bitcoin Block)

    Blocks are files where data pertaining to the Bitcoin network is permanently recorded.
  4. Fintech

    Fintech is a portmanteau of financial technology that describes an emerging financial services sector in the 21st century.
  5. Ex-Dividend

    A classification of trading shares when a declared dividend belongs to the seller rather than the buyer. A stock will be ...
  6. Debt Security

    Any debt instrument that can be bought or sold between two parties and has basic terms defined, such as notional amount (amount ...
Trading Center