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‘Cooper’s Treasure’ Star on Why He’s Televising His Secret ‘Treasure Map From Space’

Yes, it’s a real map that has led to real finds

“Cooper’s Treasure” is currently being discovered by viewers, and there’s good reason to board the sea-bottom series.

The Discovery show follows the underwater expeditions of Darrell Miklos, who just might have the most valuable and unique treasure map in the world — or rather, from out of this world. Yeah, the map is from space.

Here’s the backstory: Miklos’ friend Gordon Cooper was one of NASA’s first seven astronauts in the 1950s. During one of his missions, while Cooper claimed to be scouring the globe for nuclear sites, he actually discovered something else: shipwrecks. Working for decades in secret, using the information he collected while orbiting the Earth, Cooper created a document he thought could lead to unimaginable wealth — a treasure map from space.

Before his death in 2004, Cooper bequeathed Miklos with the map and the trust that his exploration would continue. Miklos is now on the hunt, and on cable TV.

Only one episode has aired to-date, so Miklos isn’t giving away the details of what his crew has found thus far. But suffice it to say, they’ve found some stuff. Focusing on extractions from five “priority targets” at the time of our interview, Miklos tells TheWrap, “We’ve positively identified shipwreck materials in all five areas.”

While not every find is going to produce gold bouillons — though there are definitely those out there, too.

“There literally have been billions of dollars of treasure that have been found,” Miklos said of his industry’s findings overall.

“I’m not in it only for the money,” he added. “But I’m also not gonna be dumb … I’m in it for success.”

In Miklos’ case, when he finds something, everybody wins. To varying degrees, of course.

The treasure hunter-turned TV star has worked out a deal for who-gets-what when he unearths things in different locations. And if you were wondering (like we were), per Miklos, NASA and the U.S. government has no claim to his map, even if Cooper was using government-owned equipment to make it. After all, the coordinates were (presumably) jotted down on downtime up there, and “99 percent of the work was done after he came back down to Earth,” his heir explained.

That doesn’t mean the government would get nothing, though. If Miklos found treasure in U.S. waters, for example, he gets to keep 75 percent of the commercially-viable artifacts, with the homeland claiming the remaining 25 percent. That kind of agreement varies from country to country, he specified. And it’s a good deal — particularly for the poorer ones, Miklos stated — especially considering he pays all of the expedition expenses and will even aid a nation in setting up and marketing museums.

“Otherwise, the material that’s down there is gonna stay down there … and the story will never be told,” he said.

Story-telling is one reason Miklos is broadcasting his potentially priceless secret map to the world — though all the good stuff on the map is blurred out on television. Another reason is as an insurance policy, so to speak. This way, it’s all documented in case Miklos is ever questioned on his share, and the hundreds (or possibly, thousands) of hours of footage provide the ultimate level of transparency for host countries, should a discrepancy arise.

Not only is the U.S. not coming after Miklos for the map, Cooper’s family is cool with it being in his hands — especially considering how much work Darrell has done himself.

He’ll have plenty of opportunities to literally strike gold. Cooper originally identified roughly 60 “anomalies” on his “treasure map from space,” eventually performing deep research on about 10 sites. In some cases, there were 15 individual wrecks in just one anomaly — and in some areas, Miklos has found more than the two originally believed to exist.

“We have found a lot of shipwreck material that I don’t even think he knew was [out] there,” he said — and they’re just getting started.

In other words, there is no shortage of spots to dive into. Miklos estimates that there have been three million shipwrecks spanning the world, with about one-third of those in the Caribbean — his and Cooper’s area of choice. Still, there’s only been a few hundred finds that are particularly noteworthy, Miklos told us.

He’s looking to add to that sum — but even with a secret treasure map from space, there are no guarantees in his line of work. Well, maybe one. Miklos promised TheWrap that fans aren’t wasting their precious time on his project.

“It people are patient, they will see that this thing does lead to really significant discoveries,” he teased. “You just have to watch it.”

The second episode of “Cooper’s Treasure” airs Tuesday at 10/9c on Discovery.