Man reportedly saves half a million pennies over 40 years

Ben Franklin would be so proud.

A Louisiana man has reportedly cashed in more than half a million pennies he saved over the past 40 years.

Ortha Anders, a resident of Ruston, Louisiana, started collecting in the 1970s, according to a report from TV station KNOE.

Anders eventually filled 15 five-gallon water bottles with the coins, which weighed 2,830 pounds, or nearly one-and-a-half tons.

Anders didn’t actually want to deposit the coins in the bank, but said his insurance would no longer cover them. In addition he needs the money to pay a medical bill, according to the report.

Anders told the station that whenever he saw a penny “it was a reminder to me to be thankful.”

The sum total of his 40 years of penny saving came to $5,136.14, or roughly 35 pennies per day.

In recent years rising commodity prices have pushed the cost of producing a penny well above its face value. The coins are mostly made of zinc, with a small amount of copper.

President Obama called for consideration of “alternative options for the penny and nickel” in his budget proposal for 2015, amid reports the government lost $105 million minting the coins in 2013.

Canada quit making new pennies several years ago.

However, Mark Weller, executive director of Americans for Common Cents, a lobbying group that receives money from a variety of sources including the zinc industry, says there is widespread support for keeping the penny in circulation in the U.S.

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Surveys show between two-thirds and three-quarters of Americans want to keep the penny, according to Weller.

“Some may question the value of the penny, but they really do add up,” Weller said. He added that shifting away from pennies and rounding up to the nearest nickel would have a “disproportionately hard effect on those who can least afford it.”

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