Brothers who hoarded 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer forced to donate to charity

The Tennessee Attorney General's Office opened an investigation for alleged illegal price gouging.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Alyssa Newcomb

Two brothers who went viral for hoarding 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer said they would donate the critical supplies after the Tennessee Attorney General's Office opened a price gouging investigation.

Matt Colvin became a viral villain after he was featured in a New York Times article titled, "He Has 17,700 Bottles of Hand Sanitizer and Nowhere to Sell Them." With stores around the country sold out of critical COVID-19 supplies, a photo of Colvin standing in front of shelves of hand sanitizer in his storage unit sparked outrage.

Matt Colvin with his stock of hand sanitizer and other supplies in demand due to coronavirus concerns that he was selling online until Amazon and other sites started cracking down on price gouging, at his home in Hixson, Tenn., March 12, 2020.Doug Stickland / The New York Times via Redux

In the story, Colvin explained how his brother, Noah Colvin, went on a 1,300 mile trip around Tennessee and Kentucky, buying the remaining supply of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. Meanwhile, he stayed home in Hixson, Tennessee, and listed the products on Amazon for between $8 and $70.

While Colvin said it was "crazy money," it stopped after Amazon cracked down on coronavirus-related price gouging, leaving him with a stockpile of critical supplies that many people desperately need during the outbreak.

"There is a special place in hell for hoarders of toilet paper and hand sanitizer or price gouging during this national emergency," wrote one Twitter user.

Another said Colvin deserved a spot on the "Most hated Americans list." Others were far less diplomatic and called the brothers just about every expletive in the book.

They also pointed out the irony of one of Colvin's quotes. "If I can make a slight profit, that’s fine,” he told the newspaper. “But I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me."

Colvin updated his e-commerce website this weekend with a statement confirming the products will be donated. "The Hand Sanitizer in the NYT story is being donated to a local church and first responders tomorrow," he said.

On Sunday, a reporter for NBC News affiliate WRCB shared a video of the attorney general's staff carrying boxes out of the storage unit and loading up a U-Haul truck.

“We will not tolerate price gouging in this time of exceptional need, and we will take aggressive action to stop it,” Tennessee attorney general Herbert Slattery III said in a statement. “During this pandemic, we ask that you report suspicious activity to the Division of Consumer Affairs and refrain from threatening or hostile communication with individuals or businesses you may suspect are price gouging. Our team will review complaints closely and we are prepared to act to protect Tennesseans."

Price gouging limited supplies during a state of emergency is illegal. People can report price gouging to their state attorney general's offices.