Jay Miscovich might be richest man from Latrobe, Pa., outside of golf legend Arnold Palmer.

Or maybe not even close.

The problem is: Although Miscovich claims he found a king's ransom in emeralds on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, courts haven't granted him clear title yet.

And then there are all the investors to pay off.

Sunday night, Miscovich not only shared his tale with 60 Minutes, he led cameras to the spot where emeralds littered the sea floor off the Florida Keys.

The haul so far: more than 65,000 gems, probably originally mined in Colombia. The estimated worth is millions of dollars, and potentially more than $10 million if they from some centuries-old wreck, given them precious historic value, too, according to the show.

"Any question on the authenticity of these stones, at all?" 60 Minutes asked a couple of gems experts.

"No. No, this is the real McCoy," said one.

The story of the find sounds like something more out of a novel than a news story.

Miscovich, a real estate investor and amateur diver with a fascination for treasure-hunting, "walks into a bar in Key West, Florida, is shown a treasure map and a shard of pottery by a diver friend, and then - although he's almost broke - buys the map," about three years ago, according to a transcript of the show. (Go to: http://cbsn.ws/I0q3eW.)

Miscovich said he paid the unidentified friend $500 for the map, and $50,000 more for all rights after finding the first emeralds.

Miscovich took CBS to the secret spot.

"Wow. We are in the middle of ever lovin' nowhere," said correspondent Armen Keteyian, before Miscovich dove in, followed by a camera crew.

"There, sitting proper on the silty bottom, was what we had been promised, glittering specks of green. . . . Soon our hands were full of rough emeralds, with some amethyst mixed in," Keteyian narrated.

"I've never seen so many emeralds coming from such a small part of the ocean floor before in my life," said marine archeologist Duncan Mathewson.

Although Miscovich could have cashed in by selling the gems on the black market, he went the honest - and potentially more profitable route - of hiring Key West attorney David Horan, who got a federal court to give Miscovich temporary custody while full ownership is deliberated.

That process could take years.

"Until then, Miscovich can't legally sell a single stone," 60 Minutes said.

And even if he is awarded ownership, questions about the find's value might mean still won't reap enough of a windfall to pay off the millions he owes investors.

That's why Miscovich is determined to do more diving - and hopefully find an ancient shipwreck nearby that would pin down the origins and boost the historic value.

He admits, though, that other explanations are possible, including that emeralds were dumped by drug and gem smugglers while being chased by the Coast Guard.

"It's more romantic if we could ascertain that it was a pirate ship, a great sailing ship," Miscovich said.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.