Coin Company Steps in After Ga. Man Receives 91,000 Pennies as Payment from Former Job
A Georgia man who said he was unpleasantly surprised with a mound of 91,000 pennies in place of a final paycheck has finally traded in the change for cash — with a little help from Coinstar.
The company announced on Thursday that Andreas Flaten received $1,000 in cash, money he said he was owed by a former employer who instead opted to give it to him in all pennies.
"It was a shock and frustrating to be paid in this manner, and it was an extra burden that the pennies were covered with an oily substance," Flaten said in a press release. "I was spending an hour or two a night trying to clean the pennies and probably only cleaned off about $5 worth. I was so relieved and grateful that Coinstar agreed to help me."
The bizarre incident made headlines last month, after Flaten said he came home to $915 worth of pennies in his Fayetteville driveway, along with a note that allegedly read, "F— you."
His girlfriend Olivia Oxley told PEOPLE at the time that Flaten left his job at Walker Luxury Autoworks in Peachtree City in November, but never received his final check.
She said she believes his former boss, Miles Walker, sent the coins after Flaten complained about the delay in getting the money he was owed.
"At first, we were super ticked because we were trying to leave the house… and we had to shovel pennies out of the driveway before we could go anywhere," Oxley said. "However, after the first shovel full, all we could do was laugh because this poor miserable man took so much time to be vindictive and cruel. We absolutely refused to let him ruin a single moment of ours."
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Walker did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment at the time, but told CBS affiliate WGCL that while he couldn't "really remember" if he had dumped the coins, Flaten "got paid, that's all that matters."
Since they landed in his driveway, Flaten was keeping the many pennies in a wheelbarrow in his garage, before Coinstar helped him move them to a transport vehicle on Thursday.
The company, which is best known for its coin-counting kiosks, said it plans to clean and process the coins before returning them to circulation. It also announced that it will match the value of the pennies, and at Flaten's choosing, will donate $1,000 to be split between two local Atlanta animal shelters.
"When we heard about Mr. Flaten's penny problem, we were happy to offer our assistance," Coinstar CEO Jim Gaherity said in a statement. "Coinstar has been in the coin business for 30 years and we process approximately 41 billion coins annually – so picking up 91,000 pennies was all in a day's work."