Mathematician won the lottery 14 times thanks to simple formula

A Romanian-born Australian mathematician who won 14 lottery jackpots before eventually filing for bankruptcy has revealed the equations he used to beat the odds on numerous occasions.

Stefan Mandel first devised a system to land the top prize in his native Romania, which enabled him to leave the country and head to Australia – via Israel – with his young family. And this is where he embarked on a campaign to land more lottery wins by using a simple maths solution, a campaign that proved ultimately successful, and legal.

His formula? To buy tickets with all the possible combinations. Bingo.

Being a mathematician and economist, he first created the perfect system, when in Romania, that could predict five out of the six winning numbers – to start with he was just looking to win the second prize, rather than the jackpot.

Together with three friends, he put his formula to the test, but to his surprise they ended up winning the top prize, which back then was 72,783 leu, the equivalent of 18 times his salary.

After settling in his new home of Australia, he got to work on trying to crack their lottery, which basically amounted to buying as many tickets as possible with the aid of many assistants, who helped him create a kind-of lottery business.

He managed to recruit an army of helpers who bought tickets all round the country, with all the receipts being stored in a safe place.

As soon as he inevitably won the grand prize, he would distribute the money among his investors and helpers, and then try again, Mail Online reports.

As the wins kept coming, Australian authorities began to grow suspicious and despite Mandel not actually doing anything illegal, rules were brought in to try and stop him from continuing his winning run.

But Mandel kept finding ways round the new rules and as he did so, the authorities kept making it harder and harder for him and lottery operation to keep on winning, which resulted in the Aussie citizen finally ending his pursuit of home glory, but instead target the USA.

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And his particular focus was the lotto in Virginia, which had no laws preventing players from cornering the market.

In the early 90s, there were 7.1 million possible number combinations in the Virginia lottery, with tickets were priced at only $1 each. Mandel successfully recruited 2,500 Australian investors to pitch in $2,500 each.

And in 1992, with the lottery reaching $27million, Mandel and his team got to work, buying every single ticket combination, attempting to print them all out on their own laser printers in Sydney. He then paid around $60,000 to ship the tickets to the US.

When his team headed to the US, though, to continue purchasing the tickets, convenience stores ran out, leaving Mandel and Co. around one million tickets short of their goal. But it didn’t matter as they still snagged the big one, along with loads of minor prizes which resulted in the mammoth total in excess of $30million. 

“I knew that I would win one first prize, six second prizes, 132 third prizes, and thousands of minor prizes,” Mandel told Planet Money.

Virginia State Lottery commissioner Kenneth W. Thorson was suspicious after learning of Mandel’s operation, but eventually released the cash after an investigation, which involved the CIA and FBI, found the syndicate had done nothing wrong.

That was to be Mandel’s 14th and final lottery win, while just three years later he filed for bankruptcy. He then spent the next decade running various investment schemes and was nearly sent to jail in Israel, but a conviction was overturned.

Now he lives on a remote tropical island off the coast of Australia, with no intention of ever playing the lottery again.

And on his success, he said: “Theoretically, anybody can buy all the possible combinations. Any high school boy or girl can calculate those combinations.

“Nobody has ever developed a logistical system to lodge such a large amount of play slips.

“We were the only winners and that was it.”

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