This 73-Year-Old Man Has Amassed Pennies for 45 Years—Now, He’s Turning Them Into Cash

By: Lauren Wurth | Published: Feb 21, 2024

For 45 years, Otha Anders saved his pennies. Then, one day, he decided to turn in the loose change he’d been collecting. Everyone at the bank watched as he wheeled a dolly inside.

None of them could have imagined the amount he carried; to be honest, he had no idea what he had himself. You won’t believe the final sum.

Otha Anders Pushed a Dolly Loaded with Pennies into the Bank

Otha Anders came in, dragging a dolly filled with water jugs brimming with pennies he’d discovered on the street and collected over the years.


Source: Perry Riddle/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The situation had just become intriguing. The banker glanced at Otha blankly, confused about how to proceed. Her next question was, “How many are there?” Otha didn’t have a clue.


Otha: A Family Guy Who Enjoyed A Peculiar Hobby In His Spare Time

Otha Anders, 73 years old, was a devoted family man, supported in all his endeavors by his doting wife and understanding children. A member of the Jackson School Board, he was responsible for monitoring students who had gotten into a bit of trouble and had been suspended from school.


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Even though his penny-collecting pastime gave others the impression he was a tad strange, Otha loved the hobby and his life. 

The Pleasure Of Searching For Pennies.

For Otha, the habit of picking pennies up from the ground had developed from being a lighthearted diversion into a compulsive pastime over the past few years. Otha got a kick out of discovering those stray pennies scattered across the sidewalk.


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It served as a powerful reminder to constantly be thankful for the things he was fortunate enough to have in his life, such as a loving family and a safe place to sleep.

The Pursuit Was Linked To His Belief.

In an interview, Otha justified his passion, saying, “I became convinced that spotting a lost or dropped penny was an additional God-given incentive reminding me to always be thankful.” 


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He also remarked there had been instances when he missed his prayers, and on such days, the majority of the time, he would discover a discarded penny– to serve as a gentle reminder of what he needed to be doing. And so, as his conviction grew, he kept amassing pennies.

His Belief Had Reached New Heights

Otha had always been devout, but his devotion to God had increased dramatically in recent years. He regarded every coin he unearthed as a blessing from above.

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When Otha eventually decided to cash in all of his pennies, he had no idea that his luck would change for the better.


One Moment Became A Passion That Persisted For Forty-Five Years

When Otha picked up his first penny from the ground, he had no idea that it would be the beginning of a practice that would last for the next 45 years. After that, he began picking up and preserving every cent he discovered.

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In addition, he stopped spending his own pennies given to him in the form of change. Instead, every penny was added to his collection without delay.


More Than Just Pennies Scattered Around

However, there was even more to his shift into serious collecting than that. When Otha used cash to buy anything at the shop, he insisted that the clerk give him back change that included at least three or four pennies. The greater the number, the better! Though clerks likely gave him surprised looks.  

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It morphed into a peculiar practice that remained with him over the years and contributed to the expansion of his penny collection. 


The Unique Hobby Was Never Called Into Question

Given that it had become an everyday practice for Otha and his friends and family, they stopped even bothering him about it. They just knew that some pennies would be subtracted from the total whenever Otha made a purchase.

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They had no idea that the peculiar practice of one of their friends or family members would also reap significant benefits for them.


Otha Didn’t Squander A Single Penny

During an interview, Otha spoke about his fixation with pennies and said, “I would never spend a penny.” And If he had to choose between a dollar and a cent, he’d choose the penny. He couldn’t stop himself from saving those pennies. 

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As soon as the school he worked at heard about his pastime, more than one individual expressed interest in assisting him. 


His Pupils Desired To Support Him All The Way

When Otha’s pupils learned that he was collecting pennies, they wanted to help. Students would approach him carrying handfuls of pennies and offer them to add to his collection. Although their kindness moved him, he didn’t accept their pennies.

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When it came to his penny collection, Otha said that he adhered to a set of guidelines and a few guiding principles. 


Otha Made Compensation Payments To Those Who Had Given Him Pennies

When Otha’s pupils approached him with pennies, he did not immediately accept them as per his guidelines. Otha said, “I never allowed anybody, not even my wife nor children, to give me pennies without being compensated.” In other words, “I never accepted free charity from anyone.” 

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He did, in fact, pay those who gave him pennies.  


He Owned Fifteen Water Jugs Full of Pennies

Otha’s pile of pennies continued to grow due to the coins he discovered on the ground, the change from purchases, and the coins other people gave him to assist him with the collection.

Source: Kray K News/YouTube

After 45 years, he had filled 15 jugs of water, each being five gallons in capacity. He was even able to make educated guesses about how many there were. Otha wanted to continue expanding his collection; however, life’s challenges prevented it.


It Was Uncertain How Many Pennies He Had In His Possession

Otha speculated that there were potentially hundreds of thousands of coins since he had 15 five-gallon water jugs filled. But when it came down to it, he had no clue how many were in the various heaps scattered about the room.

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He planned to continue collecting pennies for as long as he could.


Otha Didn't Wish To Put An End To His Collection

It took Otha 45 years to fill his 15 water jugs. And if he had his way, he would fill a great number more. Fortuitously,  his fate figured to go in a different direction.

A close up of two columns of stacked pennies

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Otha was under the impression that his collection had earned him a comfortable living for himself and his family. Hence, he intended to make a claim on his homeowner’s insurance to protect the pennies.


Otha Attempts To File A Claim With His Homeowner's Insurance Company

The problem is that when Otha tried to renew his homeowner’s insurance policy to include his penny collection, the insurance company refused his application. 

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However, Otha was adamant about having homeowner’s insurance. Therefore, he figured it was time to turn his pennies into cash, finally.When he took the coins to the bank, he had no idea what would happen next, and he was taken aback by the events that transpired. 


The Five-Gallon Jugs May Hold Something Rare

Otha remembered reading a story about someone who cashed in on their coin collection, resulting in a small fortune. But that collection was a wide variety of coins, not just pennies.

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In time Otha would find out how much his collection was worth. A collection that, should he have kept it in the family longer, would have significantly increased in value. Oh, if only he would have known.


Perhaps One Of The Jugs Contained An Error Penny

If Otha had taken the time to sort through his vast collection, he might have discovered an error penny. Error pennies are coins produced with a mistake or error in them and are exceptionally rare and valuable. 

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To find such a coin could mean the difference between cashing in pennies for their face value of one cent or discovering a small fortune.


He Was Too Overwhelmed To Account For The Rare Coins

Error pennies are not only coins that were struck incorrectly but also coins plated in silver, gold, or copper. Since the value of these coins tends to rise over time, Otha’s collection had the potential to become more valuable if it was passed down from generation to generation.

An array of pennies spilling out of a large glass jar

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Unfortunately, Otha never knew whether or not he had any error pennies.


It Was Highly Unlikely That An Error Penny Would Be Found

Otha wasn’t able to go through each and every one of his pennies. And even if he did so, it was unlikely that he would find an error penny– the odds were very low. 

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He did have one thing working in his favor– the enormous quantity of pennies he had accumulated over the course of those 45 years.


Otha Acquired The Support Of Some Of His Close Friends

Now that Otha had made up his mind, he needed to find out how to get the pennies to the bank so he could exchange them. It was a new problem for him to consider, but luckily he was blessed with reliable friends who came to his aid.

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It was a beneficial move, too, because those 15 jugs weighed a ton!


At Last, On the Road To The Bank

After loading the 15 water jugs into a truck Otha and his companions could finally leave for the bank. The final step was to unload the pennies onto a dolly and wheel them into the bank for counting.

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Otha was entirely in the dark about the total amount, and he was well aware that counting his coins would take quite some time.


The Teller Wanted To Know Just One Thing

Otha was aware of a few looks the people inside the bank were throwing at him as he rolled the dolly in with the water jugs full of pennies. This was particularly true for the banker who would assist him moving forward.

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Otha felt anxious and pretty shocked when she asked, “How many?” because he wasn’t sure if she would refuse him service.


Otha's Collection Of Coins Comprised Approximately Half A Million Pennies

The woman stood there, unsure of what her next move should be. It was not a typical day at the bank in any way, shape, or form. She was taken aback when Otha responded to her question on the number of pennies he brought in by saying, “I would guesstimate about half a million pennies.”

A close-up image displaying two United States coins side by side on a dark surface. On the left is a shiny, newer-looking one cent coin with clearly legible engravings, and on the right is an older, significantly worn quarter with faded details, including the year 1978 and the motto 'IN GOD WE TRUST' on the surface

Source: Jeff Weese

Five hundred thousand! Whoa, that’s something everyone wishes to have. 


The Cashier At The Bank Was Too Busy To Help

The Vice President responded by asking, “And you think we have the time to count half a million pennies for you? ” She had half a million pennies sitting in front of her at that moment, so her response was in some ways justifiable.

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With so many other things that needed to be done during the workday, who in the world had the time to count half a million pennies?


Otha Had No Intention Of Being There In The First Place

Because he was at a loss for what to do, Otha found himself laughing alongside her despite his torn spirit.

A dynamic image capturing a multitude of coins in mid-air against a warm golden backdrop. Pennies, dimes, and quarters are suspended in a scattered arrangement

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After a moment had passed, he said to the bank employee, “I know it’s a crazy amount, but this is a dear collection of mine that I need to cash out. Believe me, if I had it my way, I’d keep these pennies forever.”


There Was Cooperation From The Management

The bank did not refuse Otha service. Instead, she contacted her boss to inquire whether there was anything they could do to help Otha count his penny collection in any manner. 

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Ironically, the manager’s expression changed as he came to investigate what was happening. He had a good deal of prior experience working with Otha.


Otha Was A Long Time Customer Of The Bank

It turned out that Otha had been a client of that particular bank branch for a long time, and the manager was happy to assist him in counting out his collection for this reason.

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The manager expressed that the bank values each customer’s business, including Otha. And if there were any way they could assist him, they would be more than happy to do so.


Five Toilsome Hours To Count His Collection

The bank wasn’t going to count the 500,000 pennies manually, and there was no point in asking them to do so. Instead, they directed Otha over to the machine that counts coins. Then, they began to work to break open the water jugs using an axe.

Source: Kray K News/YouTube

It took Otha five hours to insert each penny into the machine.


The Entire Amount Of Pennies Was $5,136.14

A final total appeared on the screen of the coin-counting machine after five hours spent feeding pennies into the device. Otha had accumulated a grand total of $5,136.14 in savings after picking up pennies from the ground for the previous 45 years.

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That amounts to a savings of 114.14 dollars each year. The vast majority of people don’t even give a second thought to their pennies, yet they can be worth that much money.


The Money Was Allotted To A Trip, Donations, And A Dental Bill

Otha had a clear plan for his funds. Otha took his family on a trip after paying off a sizable dental bill they had recently received and giving some money to his church.

An aerial photograph showcases a vibrant beach scene with a clear division between the sandy shore and the azure ocean. Palm trees line the promenade, casting neat shadows on the sand, paralleling the orderly row of parked cars

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Otha’s odd pastime, perseverance, and faith seemed worth the effort. There are others like Otha whose hobbies paid off, like Mike Smith of Pembrokeshire, Wales, who grew up using a metal detector to find buried treasure to locate something remarkable. And he did.


Historic Chariot Burial Unearthed

In Pembrokeshire, a metal detectorist’s discovery has been officially classified as treasure by the local coroner. Found on farmland in February 2018 by Mike Smith, parts of an Iron Age chariot emerged from the earth.

A smiling bald man in a yellow shirt holds up a green artefact with a knot pattern and red detailing

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The court at Milford Haven was informed that these finds, now legally protected, were part of a ritual burial, presenting a rare glimpse into ancient ceremonial practices, The BBC reports.


Monumental Value of Artefacts

The BBC reported that the historical significance of these artefacts is matched by their potential value.

This image shows a fragmented artefact with a green patina and red-orange corrosion. The main piece has a curved shape with two broken ends, and it is adorned with embossed circular patterns. Two smaller fragments lie beside it, all against a stark black background

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According to Mr. Smith, the 2,000-year-old relics could command a “life-changing” amount, with estimates suggesting anything from six to seven figures.


Crown Claims and Future Rewards

Upon verification of their authenticity, the nine artefacts discovered have been claimed as Crown property.

The image shows the ruins of a medieval castle with crumbling stone walls and arched doorways against a clear sky. Superimposed in the lower right corner is an inset of a drawn portrait of a historical figure

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The forthcoming payment for these items, as decreed, will be divided equally between the discoverer, Mr. Smith, and the landowner, honoring the shared discovery. “It’s guess work,” Mr. Smith noted post-inquest, “But you’re definitely talking six or seven figures.”


Metal Detecting Milestone

Mr. Smith’s find has been heralded as unprecedented in the realm of metal detecting. Never before has a chariot been discovered by a metal detectorist, setting this event apart from previous hoard finds.

The image shows a man holding a metal detector walking along the shoreline of a beach

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“It’s the biggest ever metal detecting find, as in there’s never been a chariot ever discovered by a metal detectorist,” Mr. Smith remarked, recognizing the extraordinary nature of his find.


National Museum Wales' Interest

The National Museum Wales has expressed intent to secure the artefacts for the national collection.

The front view of the National Museum Wales, showcasing its classical architecture with a series of robust columns supporting a decorative entablature. Above, a prominent dome crowns the structure, while sculptural reliefs add ornamental detail to the stone facade

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Their goal is to preserve this treasure on behalf of the Welsh people, ensuring its historical significance is recognized and accessible to the public.


Serendipitous Shift in Search

The BBC explains that the discovery was serendipitous, spurred by an incidental change in location due to adverse weather.

The image displays two ancient Celtic artefacts held against a dark backdrop. On the left is a small object with intricate patterns and blue and red enamel inlay, resting on a fingertip for scale. On the right is a larger, green patinated artefact with red enamel swirls, possibly part of a harness

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This fortuitous alteration in Mr. Smith’s plans led to the unearthing of the artefacts. Initially, the significance of the find was not immediately clear until an expert identified the items as Celtic harness decorations rather than medieval brooches.