You’ve probably spent a fair amount of time wondering what you’d do if you hit the Powerball jackpot. We know we have.
Whether you’d buy a new house or go on an around the world trip, winning a life-changing amount depends on sheer luck for most of us.
It’s different for Stefan Mandel, though. The Romanian economist, battling to make ends meet, devised a rather genius solution to his money woes: win the lottery.
In fact, the maths whizz discovered a brilliant way of winning that meant he could start a whole new life. And, it wasn’t even illegal. Jackpot!
We know we’ve said it before, and it still holds true: you’re four times more likely to be struck by lightning that hit a Powerball jackpot.
Apparently, those odds just don’t apply to Stefan Mandel. He’s won the lottery 14 times. The first two wins happened in his home country, Romania, where he was just trying to make enough cash to get his family out of the country. At the time, his salary was a meager $88 a month.
After his two windfalls, Mandel moved to Israel and eventually settled in Australia where he went on to win the lottery another 12 times. Twelve!
According to The Hustle, Mandel spent ages poring over different mathematical theories. After spending years of doing his numbers, he came up with what he describes as a number-picking algorithm based on a method he titled “combinatorial condensation.”
With this method, Mandel claims he could predict five of the six winning numbers accurately. In turn, this reduced the number of potential combinations in a lottery from millions to just thousands.
Mandel got his friends in on the secret, too. They purchased a massive block of lottery tickets using the combinations his formula devised as most likely to win. They won first prize.
For their first try, the jackpot amounted to 78,783 Romanian lei, a little more than $19,000. Once he paid off his expenses, Mandel walked away with about $3,800. It was just enough to get him out of Romania and try out his winning formula once more.
Once he’d settled in a new country, Mandel spent even more hours pouring over Fibonacci’s probability papers. He eventually realised that, in some cases, the total cost of buying all the available lottery tickets still worked out to less than the total jackpot.
For example, if a game needed 6 numbers between 1 and 40 for a combination, that means there were just over 3,800,000 combinations. If a ticket cost $2 and the total jackpot prize was worth $10 million, it would still leave a player with a tidy profit of just over $2,000,000.
So, Mandel did the next logical thing. He convinced a group of Australian investors to put their cash together and create a lottery syndicate. They held out until the jackpot was larger than the sum of all the tickets they bought.
The syndicate won 12 lotteries around the UK and Australia along with the $27 million Virginia lottery jackpot.
Eventually, lottery authorities picked up on the plot and swiftly changed the rules to ban bulk buying and computer-printed forms.
The audacious system saw Mandel win million in prizes. But, here’s the twist – he is bankrupt.
Prior to winning the Virginia lottery, Mandel set up a company called Pacific Financial Resources. Under the company, he developed a trust that he called International Lotto Fund. He persuaded thousands of people to invest in the fund, raising millions.
From a humble Melbourne warehouse, Mandel employed 16 staff members to print out seven million tickets over a 3-month period. He then mailed those off to an associate in America.
That’s when the syndicate won the Virginia jackpot along with a few smaller prizes.
At its prime, the business printed off 100,000 tickets every hour. The method wasn’t illegal, but once authorities cottoned on, Mandel was pulled into a 4-year legal battle.
While he was cleared of wrongdoing, and he did pocket millions along the way, his investors were left with rather smaller payouts than promised.
In 1995, Mr. Mandel filed for bankruptcy and spent 20 months in an Israeli prison due to his investment scam.
Since then, US states have passed laws to ban the use of Mandel’s mathematical strategy.
In an interview, Mandel said he likes to take risks, just in a calculated way. He cited that the chances are always in his favour.
Do you think the chances are in your favour? You never know until you play.