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CROWN POINT | From a $70 purchase of three ugly sweaters at a local Goodwill Store in 2009 to three seats tonight on Jay Leno's couch, a whimsical investment is paying off.

"We happened to see these horrible holiday sweaters hanging in the thrift store widow and decided to buy them to sell and make some money," said Adam Paulson, 29, of Crown Point, and a 2000 graduate of Lake Central High School. The three met in 2000 at Indiana State University.

"And I have to say, the minute we walked out of the store, there was some discussion that we would probably never see that $70 again. Now two years later, we're making $30,000 with a warehouse filled with a lot of season's greetings sweaters that defy description."

Even though California in early December isn't exactly sweater weather, it will be tonight when Paulson and his business partners and buddies, Kevin Wool, 30, of Crown Point, and Brian Miller, 30, of St. John, share their rags-to-riches Christmas story on Leno's "Tonight Show." They also will promote their new 152-page hardcover book, "Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book."

"A week ago, we get a call from the producers and booking agent of 'The Tonight Show' telling us that Jay Leno wants to have us on and a day or so later, they've already got us plane tickets to head to L.A.," Paulson said.

The trio will tape the telecast at 8 p.m. Chicago time for tonight's national broadcast at 10:30 p.m. on NBC.

Paulson said he, Miller, also a 2000 Lake Central graduate, and Wool, a 1999 Crown Point High grad, have their own holiday surprise in store for Leno.

Their popular website, uglychristmassweaterparty.com, launched in 2009 when they started thinking about the idea after attending their first ugly sweater-themed holiday party in 2006.

Today, their Crown Point warehouse holds an inventory of more than 15,000 holiday-eyesore sweaters just waiting to be gifted and donned by others who appreciate bad taste.

"Doing 'The Tonight Show' is our early Christmas gift and now, we just need to figure out what to wear," Paulson said.

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