Skip to comments.Picking (Up) Winners Without Placing a Bet
Posted on 12/10/2009 11:28:43 AM PST by BGHater
For the past 10 years, Jesus Leonardo has been cleaning up at an OTB parlor in Midtown Manhattan, cashing in, by his own count, nearly half a million dollars worth of winning tickets from wagers on thoroughbred races across the country.
During his glorious run, Mr. Leonardo, 57, has not placed a single bet.
It is literally found money, he said on a recent night from his private winners circle. He spends more than 10 hours a day there, feeding thousands of discarded betting slips through a ticket scanner in a never-ending search for someone elses lost treasure.
This has become my job, my life, he said. This is how I feed my family.
Leonardo, who favors track suits and wears his graying hair and bushy beard in long ponytails, is whats known in horse racing parlance as a stooper a person who hangs around racetracks and betting parlors picking up tickets thrown away by others. Most tickets are losers, but enough are winners to make it worth his while.
To his stable of OTB buddies, Mr. Leonardo is the Secretariat of stoopers.
Hes a legend, said Paul Pepad, 57, an out-of-work musician who lives in Manhattan. Everyone knows that this is his turf, that all the tickets thrown out belong to him, period. Its just been that way as long as I can remember.
Jesus Leonardo is a stooper, picking up tickets that others have thrown away at OTB parlors.
Discouraged bettors usually toss their tickets as soon as the race they have wagered on has ended, which may be a bit premature.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
If you assume he “works” 200 days per year, he has devoted 20,000 hours to this “job” over the last 10 years. If he truly collected $500,000, he made $25 per hour pretax. Do you suppose he reported this income to the IRS?
‘It is all taxable income. I file my winnings with the I.R.S. every year, Mr. Leonardo said in his thick Dominican accent.’
I think he really did file. Otherwise, would he agree to this story in the Times?
I hope he can defend his turf against the surging mobs of out-of-work NYT readers who come looking for winners.
I don't think he has much to worry about. This is the NY Times you're talking about. There aren't that many readers, and the few they have are elitist academics who probably couldn't figure out how to do what this guy is doing.
When I was a child I lived near Belmont Racetrack and we would go to see the races. Of course we didn’t bet, but we would look through the tickets on the ground to see if there was anything good. It was really good if there was a dispute, the tickets were often discarded before the results was final.
Once I found a ticket that was a $50 winner. That was huge back then, to a child.
I think VINCENT M. MALLOZZI just did it for him.
That’s what I thought as soon as I read it. How could you keep a dozen other people from starting to pick up the tickets?
I guess this goes right along with the people who check all the vending machines for change in the return cups and under the machines.
Believe it or not, he might have a 1099 or something from the OTB. In most places, legal gambling facilities (as well as game shows) must report larger winnings to the IRS.
Here’s a secret for you - coin changing machinery is designed to kick out pure copper, silver, gold when counting your change. The coins are deposited in a separate tray. Many people are unaware of this tray, much less, that the coins kicked back are usually of collectible quality. Next time you are in a super market, check it out. Found money.
Some people aren’t that smart. A buddy of mine was profiled in the WSJ in the early internet era. He had one of the first online sales sites. He bragged about his profits, but forgot that the IRS reads the WSJ.
$10k in fines and penalties later...