Finding Treasure In Trash

See that pile of paper slips on the floor of your local OTB? One man's made it his full-time job to go through every single discarded betting ticket and cash in the winners. He's doing better than you are.

Jesus Leonardo (who sounds like a Christian Ninja Turtle or perhaps a sequel to both "Dogma" and "Clerks") has spent the last ten years hanging around off-track betting parlors, and looking for winning slips accidentally thrown out. He's made $45,000 a year. Do you make $45,000 a year? I sure don't.

Leonardo use to place his own bets. In 1999, he thought he had a loser, so he tossed the slip. But after an inquiry of the race, the results changed and he realized he had given up a $900 winner. Searching the trash, he never found his ticket. He did find two others worth $2000. Ever since then he's been a "stooper."

He has since returned nearly every day, waiting patiently for the OTB garbage to be placed at the curb before claiming it and picking out hundreds of betting slips. He places them in a separate garbage bag, which he hauls onto the PATH train for the ride home.

"At first, my wife thought I was crazy, but then she realized I was finding a lot of money in winning tickets, sometimes $200 a day," he said. "After a while, she didn't think I was so crazy."

Rather than be insanely jealous, like me, his fellow betters couldn't be happier for him.

Everybody in here loves Jesus," [Freddy Peguero] said. "When Jesus wins, we all eat, and we all drink. Jesus is a very generous man."

Just like the real Jesus! Only he probably reeks of smoke and urine after tending to his flock.

Picking (Up) Winners Without Placing a Bet [NY Times]