David Milz, 49, of Bristol, was named the top liar of 2010 with this line: "I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met."
Milz, a school superintendent, said he came up with it while joking around with colleagues over the summer. However, an online search turns up numerous instances where the line is attributed to comedian Steven Wright.
"I don't know who he is," Milz told The Associated Press. "I came up with it independently. I'm sure it's original to him but this was original to us."
A message left with Wright's agency Wednesday was not immediately returned.
The Burlington Liars Club, which began in 1929 as a lighthearted way to honor the creativity and humor of good exaggeration, said it received almost 500 entries this year.
"We don't have the resources to check every entry to see if someone has said it before," club vice president Ed Impens said. "We're not going to worry about it. I think you're making a big deal out of nothing, personally."
Impens and two other judges sifted through the entries this week and each made a Top10 list. Milz's entry was the only one that made all three lists, Impens said.
"It had all three of the things we think are important: It's fairly short, humor is very important, and it's timely," he said. He reaffirmed that Milz will keep the 2010 title.
The runners-up include this line from Ellen Everts of New London: "My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying."
And Daryl Lockwood of Waupaca submitted this: "My neighbor's scarecrow was so good that the crows brought back the corn they stole last year."
Neither of those lines is original either. Online searches find dozens of references to the cemetery quote and several variations of the scarecrow line.
That's no big deal, said Milz, a Liars Club member for three years. The club is about lighthearted fun and passing on good humor, not being constrained by strict regulations, he said.
The liars' club is based in Burlington, a town of about 15,000 about 35 miles southwest of Milwaukee. It has almost 2,500 members around the world, president Joel Weis said.
Milz is the superintendent of an elementary and middle school district in southeastern Wisconsin. He said he was proud of his win and joked that he wasn't worried that his lying might encourage his students to stretch the truth themselves.
"I'm going to work it the other way - `You can't pull wool over the eyes of a champion liar,"' he laughed.
Burlington Liars Club: http://www.burlingtonliarsclub.com
Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.