Pennies are displayed at Glenview Coin & Collectibles July 6, 2006, in Glenview, Ill.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

A Louisiana man finally decided to cash in hundreds of thousands of pennies that he’d been saving for more than half his life, raking in more than $5,000 total, the News-Star reports

As the report tells it, Otha Anders started more than 45 years ago when he found a penny on the ground and decided to save it. He took it as a sign to pray and give thanks. 

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“I became convinced that spotting a lost or dropped penny was an additional God-given incentive reminding me to always be thankful,” the 73-year-old told the news site. “There have been days where I failed to pray, and more often than not, a lost or dropped penny would show up to remind me.”

Since then, Anders had been piling up the pennies, refusing to spend them and always making sure that whenever he bought something, his change had three or four pennies in it. 

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“I would never spend a penny,” he said. “I would break a dollar before giving up a penny.”

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While he was working as a supervisor for in-school suspended children for the Jackson School Board, students found out about Anders’ quirk and began to save pennies to sell to him.

“I never allowed anyone, not even my wife nor children, to give me pennies without being compensated,” Anders told the site. “I wanted the inner satisfaction that God and I acquired this collection.”

That led to a huge collection, stored in 15 five-gallon, plastic water jugs, adding up to about half a million pennies, which ultimately converted to $5,136.14. That amount was deposited into his account Tuesday to go toward a recent dental bill. Anders took his haul to the Ruston Origin Bank.

Bank Vice President Jennie Cole said that Anders is a longtime customer whom the bank was happy to help, even though the magnitude of the pennies didn’t make for a typical day at work.

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“We value his business, as we do all of our customers,” Cole said. “But if we can help Anders with his endeavors, we are happy to do so.”

It took five hours to count the pennies; the plastic jugs were hacked open and then the coins were poured into the coin machine bit by bit. The machine bags had to be changed for every $50. 

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Anders was hesitant to finally hand in his collection, which he refused to do back in the 1970s, when the government was offering a $25 bonus for every $100 worth of pennies turned in, the News-Star notes. However, since his homeowners insurance policy didn’t cover the extensive collection, he finally decided to cash in. 

“If I was at someone’s house and I found a penny, I would pick it up and I would keep it,” he said. “I will always tell the person that if it was a quarter, I would give it back, but since it is a penny, I’m keeping it.”

Read more at the News-Star