Erica Clark, 19, a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead, said she left the McDonald's in Moorhead after dining with her parents and discovered a thick bank envelope in the parking lot with 28 crisp $100 bills and a receipt from Wells Fargo Bank, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Thursday.
"Honestly, at first, I thought they were fake," she said.
Clark said she followed her first instinct, which was to deliver the money to police headquarters.
"My parents raised us very well to respect others and always be honest," Clark said.
Police said they were able to return the money to its owner, a man who had withdrawn the cash with the intent to purchase a pickup truck. Clark said she was able to meet the man and he gave her an undisclosed reward.
"The Moorhead Police Department would like to thank Erica Clark for her commendable character and honesty," police Lt. Tory Jacobson said.
Jacobson said Clark "recognized the heavy burden [someone] must be carrying upon learning that they had lost such a substantial amount of money."