Hyman Strachman (a.k.a. Big Hy) is a World War II vet and retired stockbroker with an interesting hobby. This 92-year-old from Long Island spends most of his time burning thousands of copies of bootleg movies to send to the troops overseas.
In a New York Times profile, Big Hy explains that after his wife of over 50 years died in 2003, he a came across a website where soldiers stationed overseas can request stuff they'd like to have from the states, with most of being movies. Since he can't afford to buy every single DVD on the shelves, he did the next best thing: burning bootleg DVDs of movies.
Big Hy's operation involves visiting a dude at a barbershop near his apartment. The DVDs were either recorded in the theater with a camera or leaked studio cuts. He began by copying each DVD at a time, but has since upgraded to a $400 duplicator that burns 7 copies in minutes. At the height of his operation in 2007 and 2008, Big Hy sent out 80,000 discs a year, and estimates that he's probably sent out over 300,000 discs total since he started in 2004.
Big Hy has so far spent $30,000 of his own cash on discs and postage. He says he has never sold a copy and destroys the main disc as soon as he's finished with it. The troops show their appreciation by sending him notes and pictures. Here's hoping Hollywood doesn't decide to nab Big Hy, because he's got the army behind him!