Meet Sam Brannan

Sam Brannan, as portrayed in Discovery's show 'Gold Fever'.
Discovery Communications

Sam Brannan arrived in California in 1846, opening a general store in San Francisco. When gold was discovered in 1848, Brannan was one of the first to find out.

But instead of racing into hills the look for gold, he set out to buy every shovel, pan and pickaxe he could find, creating a monopoly over the mining supplies in California. He then publicized the find, running through the streets of San Francisco yelling, "Gold! Gold!"

News spread quickly and the gold rush was on. As thousands of 49ers poured into San Francisco harbor, every miner had to stop at Brannan's store to stock up on supplies. Before long, Sam Brannan was the first millionaire west of the Mississippi.

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