Lottery stands apart from other forms of gambling. While betting involves skills and experience, a lottery is random. You can spend thousands of dollars on buying lottery tickets each year and even study about it in detail. But alas, the lottery only plays on one factor – randomness.
Winning the lottery is a one-in-a-million chance. What’s more is that you are more likely to achieve an Olympic medal, an Oscar, or even get struck by lighting rather than winning the lottery. Yet, people still spend a lot on lottery tickets in hopes of taking the extraordinary prize money home.
The lottery market can increase by USD 194.14 billion between the years 2021-2025. It only concludes that more and more people are participating in the lottery despite very slim winning chances.
But this was not the scenario of an exceptional man who proceeded to win the lottery not once or twice but 14 times! While these prizes are impossible to win, Stefan Mandel astonished everyone when he kept winning the lottery from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Playing smartly and legally hacking the complicated lottery system, Mandel used strategies that had nothing to do with luck.
If this has sparked your curiosity about the surprising case, read on to find out how Stefan Mandel was able to do it.
Who Is Stefan Mandel?
Before rising to fame, Stefan Mandel was an ordinary man who grew up in Romania under the oppressive regime of the Soviets. The country’s large part of the population suffered from poverty which stood as a significant problem. While Mandel was one of them, he had a novel way to come out of it.
In the late 1950s, Mandel worked as an economist in the Romanian mining consortium. He was also a mathematician and an accountant without much education.
Mandel struggled to support his wife and children in the communist era with a small salary. People living in such dire conditions had two ways to survive: make a living through illegal activities or fleeing somewhere in the west. But Mandel found a third option-winning the government-sanctioned lottery.
To get out of the country, Mandel chose the lottery to protect himself and his family. Instead of buying the tickets instinctively, Mandel brainstormed for a long time to develop an algorithm or formula that could secure his win in the lottery. This formula could predict five out of six winning numbers.
After successfully coming up with the formula, which took him four years to complete, Mandel and his three friends set out to test it. Aiming to win the second prize in the lottery, they all applied the formula and waited for the result. Mandel and his friends did not win the second prize; they won the first.
The jackpot prize was 72,783 Romanian leu which was equivalent to about 18 years of salary back then. Mandel split his winning with his first ‘investors’ and successfully moved out of the country.
Migration To Israel And Australia
However, getting out of the country was not that easy for Mandel. With his fortune, he bribed foreign ministry officials to let him and his family migrate to Israel. Released from the clutches of communist Romania, Mandel moved to Israel.
After settling for a few years in Israel, Mandel decided to move to Australia with his entire family. It was here that he elaborated his ‘ideal’ plan of action.
The Perfect Plan
Although Stefan Mandel had discovered a new way to crash the lottery system; the plan had some downsides. Originally, Mandel had to write down every combination by hand, which increased the chances of human error.
Moreover, the Romanian jackpot was huge for an ordinary individual but, in the end, turned out to be relatively small for Mandel. After paying off his investors, he had only $4,000 in his pocket. So, Mandel’s plan demonstrated that his margins were not that enormous.
However, in the 1990s, when he settled in Australia, which had a strong economy, several opportunistic doors opened up for Mandel.
Stefan Mandel’s Lottery Business
After gaining Australian citizenship, Mandel fervently was on the lookout to lay the foundations for his dream lottery business. With the formula already in his hand, the emergence of computers in the 1980s greatly simplified the whole process. It eliminated the errors he would make while writing down the combinations by hand as the machines did all his work flawlessly.
Surrounded by printers and a computer program he wrote, Mandel figured out the logistics of purchasing every number combination in a given lottery. According to him, this would guarantee a win.
Mandel needed money to buy all the tickets, so he actively searched for people or investors to participate. Several people began purchasing and submitting tickets around the country.
Throughout the 1980s, Mandel proceeded to win 12 jackpots and attained more than $40,000 for other small winnings. His process involved:
- Calculating the overall number of feasible combinations
- Seek for lotteries with a winning margin at least three times the number of possible combinations
- Fund enough money to buy every single combination
- Print millions of tickets with each combination
- Win the jackpot and pay the investors
While Mandel was gaining attention for his consistent lottery wins, it did not go unnoticed by authorities. A lottery operation this big was not illegal during the 80s. So, after gaining massive wins, the Australian government at that time made numerous changes in the system.
They enacted new laws or rules, anything to stop Mandel’s successful lottery operation.
For starters, the first law made it illegal for one man to purchase all the lottery tickets. Mandel, however, began to work with five partners. Again, the government announced that a group of individuals purchasing all lottery tickets was unlawful. In response, Mandel created a lot of firms to avoid getting caught.
However, the authorities passed so many laws that Mandel had to stop his lottery business altogether. But that wasn’t the end as he looked for another country to hatch his new plan and continue the operation.
Hitting At The Virginia Lottery
After winning 12 (overall 13) lotteries, Mandel set his eyes on Virginia. The reason why Mandel chose the United States was due to the fact that the country had no strict laws like Australia.
Mandel thoroughly researched before he selected the state of Virginia. During that time, there were lesser combinations in the lottery, and the tickets were much cheaper in the state.
His international network of co-conspirators supported him when he applied his system to the Virginia state lottery in 1992. Mandel concluded it would cost only $7.1 million to purchase each ticket. Moreover, one could print and fill the tickets at the comfort of their home.
Mandel successfully convinced 2,500 investors, gathered enough funds, and waited for the pot to grow big.
When the Virginia lottery jackpot reached $24 million, Mandel and his team immediately used laser printers to print out 7.1 million tickets back in Australia. Then, he dropped off $60,000 to have all the tickets shipped to Virginia. Anithalee Alex Jr, a businessman, then handled his plan. He saw the processing of over 100 gas stations and grocery stores throughout Virginia.
Everything went smoothly for two days, and Mandel’s team worked tirelessly. However, the convenience stores which sold the tickets soon began to run out of them. In this manner, Mandel and his team suffered a major hurdle as they still hadn’t purchased over one million number combinations yet. They had only compensated for anywhere between 5 and 6 million tickets.
This imperfect plan still brought Stefan Mandel the 14th lottery win, which was also his final. They won the jackpot and also gained another million by receiving numerous minor prizes.
Winning such a large sum, naturally, brought Mandel under the scrutiny of government officials. The Australian Securities Commission, the FBI, CIA, and IRS conducted multiple investigations about Mandel’s operation. Moreover, the Virginia lottery stopped the payout for a while.
However, even after such investigations, Mandel was innocent as his plan was perfectly legal then. With that, it was Stefan Mandel’s last lottery stunt altogether, raking more than $15 million himself.
Can You Replicate Stefan Mandel’s Formula Today?
After Mandel’s stint became renowned worldwide, the legality of this operation was up for debate for a long time.
If you are already hatching a plan to win the lottery using Mandel’s idea, you might want to consider the obstacles. Mandel’s scheme is not feasible today as current lotteries have become extremely difficult to win.
After Mandel’s brief scheme, the U.S lottery authorities changed the entire rules, making replicating the plan impossible. On top of that, people are no longer allowed to print tickets at home or buy them in bulk.
The lotteries also have more possible combinations, giving you a 1 in 6,135,756 chance of winning. It means you can only try to play the lottery the old-fashioned way or develop a formula that could top Mandel’s.
As for the genius himself, Stefan Mandel’s net worth is still relatively unknown, but many reports state that he is living a luxurious life off the coast of Australia today.