CONCORD, N.H. – He might be the New Hampshire Lottery's winningest loser.
William Rudd, a 64-year-old retiree from Salem, has collected more than 1,500 prizes including food, gift certificates and other goodies under the state lottery's "Replay" program, which gives losing lottery tickets a second chance to win.
Rudd, who retired five years ago from his job in a warehouse, says his friends and family now know him as the "lottery guy," because he spends so much time collecting losing tickets and entering the information online, which is how the Replay program works.
They aren't big-money prizes, but for Rudd, they've added up.
Here's just a sampling of his haul: four bottles of maple syrup, 20 pizzas, 33 ice cream cones, 86 cinnamon buns, 92 steakhouse gift certificates, 161 chicken sandwiches, and 484 cups of coffee to wash it all down.
Oh, yeah. And a one-month fitness club membership.
"Sometimes I'll get a large stack of tickets and not win a single prize. Sometimes I win a lot," Rudd says.
In fact, there were only nine weeks between June 2006 and June 2009 in which Rudd didn't win at least one prize, according to an Associated Press analysis of data compiled by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. At his peak, he won 109 prizes in April 2008 alone, including appetizers at T.G.I. Friday's and Canobie Lake Park passes.
But Rudd says he's no glutton, nor is he a gambling addict. He simply combines his own losing lottery tickets with those collected from a wide variety of friends and family members. And he's always on the lookout for tickets tossed on the ground outside grocery and convenience stores.
"What I do is accumulate tickets from other people and give them the prizes. I share the wealth," says Rudd, who estimates he spends about $20 per week on lottery tickets.
The 3-year-old program uses a points system that gives participants five points for each dollar's worth of tickets they enter. For example, a $5 scratch ticket is worth 25 points.
The points are used to enter monthly and quarterly drawings. Monthly prizes include items such as $100 gas cards and theater tickets. The current quarterly prize is a two-night stay for up to 18 people at a White Mountains inn.
Instant prizes also are awarded randomly — mostly gift certificates in the $5-$10 range. Winners of these prizes can choose to take the merchandise or exchange it for points that can be used to enter the monthly or quarterly drawings.
As of Sept. 1, participants had played more than 45 million tickets worth $142 million, and more than 415,000 instant prizes (merchandise and points) were awarded. That's around 2.3 prizes for each of the 180,766 people registered, according to Griffin, York and Krause, a Manchester marketing company that designed the system and runs it for the state.
Rudd won about four times the number of prizes than the next closest participant during the program's first three years. But there's no way to tell who entered the most losing tickets because about 75 percent of instant-prize winners take the points instead of the prize, and their identities aren't public.
In addition to the hundreds of food-related prizes he's won, Rudd has won museum passes, scratch tickets, ski area lift tickets, and salon gift certificates, which he passes along to his daughter.
His grandchildren have gotten into the habit of finding tickets on the ground and giving them to him, and he rewards them by taking them to sporting events. He's won tickets to auto races, baseball games, hockey games and more.
"My grandchildren love to go to those games," he says.