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LYNDHURST, Ohio - Seventy-eight-year-old Eugene J. Sukie, a retired glass plant worker/supervisor from Barberton, Ohio, broke a national all-time record for the most pennies collected and cashed in at a Coinstar machine by a single customer, when he brought more than 1 million pennies to a Giant Eagle supermarket here.
Sukie, who celebrates his 79th birthday later this month, and his wife cashed in a total of 1,048,013 pennies, which weighed in at 3.5 tons. The previous record for Bellevue, Wash.-based Coinstar, set in 2001 in Anchorage, Alaska, was 792,141 pennies (or $7,921.41). The company believes the cash-in could set a new world record for the largest (single-denomination) collection of coins by an individual.
The last batch of 88,792 pennies, cashed in yesterday at Giant Eagle via two side-by-side Coinstar machines, helped Sukie reach the final record total of $10,480.13. The Sukies haven't decided what they plan to do with their newfound windfall, although they're considering splurging on new clothing and furniture. "Giant Eagle is very proud to be a part of this unique and special event involving one of our customers," said Rob Borella, director of corporate communications for the chain.
Prompted by his wife to cash in the pennies while he was still able, Sukie contacted Coinstar after cashing in more than 200,000 pennies on his own over a two-month period at various supermarkets, as well as his local bank and credit union. With still hundreds of thousands of pennies remaining, Coinstar, which has more than 11,000 self-service coins-to-cash machines in supermarkets across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, stepped in and agreed to transport and count Sukie's remaining coins at local Coinstar machines in the Cleveland area. The coins were also counted and verified by Coinstar's third-party processor, Brinks -- a process Coinstar normally undertakes to ensure machine count accuracy.
"Coinstar helps Americans tap into hidden wealth that lies in their homes every day," said Richard Stillman, president of Coinstar, Inc. "And while Eugene's collection of pennies is certainly one for the record books, it is also a great example of how spare change can add up to significant savings."
Coinstar estimates that there's more than $10.5 billion in change sitting idle in American homes. To date, the company has helped more than 245 million consumers turn over $8.5 billion in change into spendable cash.