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They loved magnet fishing. Now they caught stacks of $100 bills


Some couples like to hike or cook together. For James Kane and Barbi Agostini, they fish with magnets.


They have caught coins, weapons, old tools. But, you know, last week they hit the jackpot in a lake in Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, in Queens, N.Y.

JAMES KANE: When I got the click on the something heavy in the water - and you could tell what it's going to be once it does come out of the water because it's - you know, it's a rusty square. And I said, babe, we got a safe. We got a safe.

CHANG: That safe was loaded with soggy $100 bills.

KANE: It was just a big old stack - brick of money on a regular rubber band. And I think the first thing I said - I was like, babe, money. Life is about to change.

SUMMERS: Agostini couldn't believe it.

BARBI AGOSTINI: I didn't take him serious. I thought it was a joke, you know? We like to have fun when we're out 'cause we're out for hours at a time. So I just thought he was playing a little joke on me.

SUMMERS: The bills weren't in the best condition, but they were legit, and the couple expects to end up with 50 to $80,000.

KANE: The first thing I noticed when I peeled some of them back - first of all, the money is like, a big, melted, slimy, browny, melted gunk of mud and a really bad stench.

CHANG: They called the police, who checked the money and said the bills were so delicate that they couldn't be reviewed for evidence of crime.

KANE: They were so in shock that they wanted pictures with us because some people - 20 years of work, and they never heard anything like this before.

AGOSTINI: Yeah. Yeah. They said that it was - the safe itself was obviously a product of crime because there was the hole in the back. But there was no crime, like, from us.

SUMMERS: So the couple was free to claim it. Kane and Agostini plan to take the money to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing here in Washington, D.C., where the bills can be recovered.

CHANG: And what will they do with their find once it's ready to be spent?

AGOSTINI: I've always wanted to have a place where I can, like, raise chickens and goats, have lots of dogs running around. And this kind of fell into our lap, so maybe this will allow us to get there.

SUMMERS: Well, if you want to explore the joys of magnet fishing, Kane has some advice for you to get started.

KANE: You need a very strong magnet, not the little ones for 20, $30, unfortunately, on Amazon. And also, throw really far. I'd like to tell everyone swing for the fence. If you know how to swing, like, you played baseball or something like that, you need to swing it far.

SUMMERS: Swing for the fences. Ailsa, are you ready to go fishing?

CHANG: Oh, I am so ready, Jana.

(SOUNDBITE OF MELANIE MARTINEZ SONG, "VOID") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Alejandra Marquez Janse is a producer for NPR's evening news program All Things Considered. She was part of a team that traveled to Uvalde, Texas, months after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary to cover its impact on the community. She also helped script and produce NPR's first bilingual special coverage of the State of the Union – broadcast in Spanish and English.
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.
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