Amateur Prospector Discovers Large Gold Nugget in Central California

The nugget is estimated to fetch as much as $70,000

An amateur prospector struck gold – literally – when he discovered a nugget the size of a T-bone steak in Central California.

Oscar Espinoza of Modesto was panning near the town of Jamestown in Tuolumne County when he made the discovery, according to NBC affiliate KCRA. The gold nugget weighs about 18 ounces and is estimated to fetch as much as $70,000.

“He had a grin from ear to ear," Espinoza’s friend Charlie Morgan told KCRA. "He was in heaven."

Espinoza wants to keep a low profile after his find so he has entrusted Morgan with safeguarding the gold nugget. 

“He felt a little bit more secure with it being out of his hands and that way no one will know exactly where it is,” said Morgan, who has some canine help.

Some in Jamestown believe the find could spur a modern day gold rush.

"It's going to put Jamestown on the map," Morgan said.

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