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otb

Yet One More Reason to Hang at the Refined Salon That Is the OTB

The Times' Vince Mallozzi had a fascinating story this morning about Jesus Leonardo, a man who makes a living by cashing in discarded Off Track Betting slips. A good one, too.

The term for it is "stooping," and it's apparently been around for decades. According to Leonardo, he's doing all right for himself:


Mr. Leonardo, who is married with two teenagers, is hardly living on the fringes. He said that stooping brings him $100 to $300 a day, and more than $45,000 a year. Last month, he cashed in a winning ticket from bets made on races at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., for $8,040. His largest purse came in 2006, when he received $9,500 from a Pick 4 wager (choosing the winners of four consecutive races) at Retama Park Race Track in Selma, Tex. It is all taxable income. "I file my winnings with the I.R.S. every year," Mr. Leonardo said in his thick Dominican accent.

We're not here to criticize Mr. Leonardo: It's a more honest living than what most of our friends do for work. We also note that most of his winnings are not from people who just tossed their tickets without realizing they had won: They're tickets from people who knew they had lost, then left before race results were changed. We're not sure if that's better or worse.

You might see Leonardo on the PATH some time.


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.

The story ends in a lovely, haunting fashion, with a solitary Leonardo patiently electronically scanning every ticket he has, hoping for that rare winner. Unlike other Lotto players, he moves out of the way when the rest of us are in line.

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Photo: Bob Jagendorf's flickr