We all wish we could be one of the lucky few that wins the lottery. How great would it be if we could purchase that winning ticket? Just like that, you could have all that looming debt paid off and even have some leftover riches to finally go on that dream vacation. Unfortunately, we are one in a million with this dream, and the chances that it will come true are basically slim to none. One man, by the name of Stefan Mandel, was not willing to accept that reality and decided to take matters into his own hands.
Mandel found a way to crack the system in order to guarantee not one, but 14 lottery jackpots. Want to hear the best part? He did all this without breaking a single law. That being said, he did manage to make some enemies in high places and is now unable to leave the remote island where he is currently residing…But we will get to that later. Popular Everything has done the research and we are here to tell you all you need to know about Mandel’s fascinating story, as well as the details of his simple yet effective winning lottery strategy.
A Life of Poverty
Meet Stefan Mandel, a Romanian mathematician who spent his whole life fighting to make ends meet. As a Holocaust survivor who grew up, surrounded around war, Mandel has had to overcome hardship more than once in his life. After the fall of World War II, he continued to live in Romania, in hopes of one day finding a better life for himself.
Living amongst the countries 1960s communist era, Mandel’s family and neighbors were living a life of poverty. Options for making an honest living were limited and many reverted to breaking the law in order to put food on the table. Mandel was working as an economist for the Romanian mining consortium, however, the $88 a month was not enough to keep him afloat.
Creating a Formula
While Mandel was still working his mining job in Romania, he made the realization that the only way that he was going to build a better life for himself was by winning the lottery. This might seem like an odd revelation considering the fact that a person has a one in a million chance, and depending on which lottery you are playing, this might even be an understatement.
Nevertheless, Mandel decided he was going to use his math skills to find a way to beat those odds. He spent all his free time analyzing theoretical probability papers and brainstorming a solution. After years of research, he finally managed to find the perfect formula, which he called “combination condensation.” This algorithm would help him predict five out of six winning lottery numbers in the Romanian lottery.
Winning His First Lottery
This solution did not come to Mandel overnight. He spent four years coming up with his formula before he finally put his findings to test. He started off aiming for a second prize win, as it only required matching five numbers, reducing the number of combinations from millions to thousands.
Although he set his sights on second place, to his delight, Mandel ended up winning the jackpot. He won around $19.3 thousand dollars. All his hard work and dedication had paid off and he managed to beat the system and beat the lottery odds. And the best part was that it was done legally! Mandel was able to have a guilt-free win.
A Simple Solution
So you’re probably wondering how he managed to manipulate a lottery win. Well, his initial breakthrough was actually much simpler than you might expect. He merely needed to identify the total possible combinations, seek out lotteries with a winning margin of at least three times the amount of combinations, and raise enough funds to purchase every single combination.
He then had to use his mathematical algorithm to fill in every single ticket and submit his tickets to dealers around town. After that, all he had to do was sit back and wait to hear the winning number. If you’re thinking this sounds like more than just a one man job, well then you’re way ahead of us.
Mandel knew he could not manage the overhead costs and logistics of this scheme on his own. In order to manage his plan, he had to gather together a group of friends and acquaintances who could each contribute a small amount to set his plan into action. With his investors recruited he was then able to purchase large blocks of tickets and get step one of his plan going.
Next, with his formula, he was able to fill out the combinations deemed with the highest probability to win. The result was better than expected! After paying off his investors and all other expenses, he was able to walk away from his first lottery win with $4,000. Although this might not sound like a lot, this first win would only be the beginning of Mandel’s lottery journey.
His Ticket Out
Now Mandel, at 24 years old, finally had enough money to seek a better life. His first goal was to get out of Romania. At the time, it was still under Soviet control and was not a safe place for Mandel and his family. His parents had already left for Israel while he stayed in Romania to continue working on his plan.
From the end of the Second World War until 1989, life in Romania was less than ideal. In the 1960s, The Socials Republic of Romania was a Soviet-aligned Eastern Bloc state. For many, this meant scarce resources, high unemployment, and a life lacking opportunity. Winning the lottery finally gave Mandel the chance for a better life.
Migrating to Israel
Mandel now had the means to leave Romania. As he grew up in a Jewish family, he knew that one of the best options for him would be to join his parents and migrate to Israel. The Soviet government did not make it easy to leave the country, however, Mandel was able to bribe foreign ministry officials for safe passage out.
After settling in Israel, Mandel married his wife and together they had two children. The happy family settled in Israel for a few years, but it wasn’t long before Mandel began to feel that something was missing. That was when he decided to move his family to the land down under, Melbourne Australia.
Moving to Australia
Australia was part of the British Commonwealth at the time. It had a strong economy and offered affordable housing and inexpensive living conditions. For that reason, Mandel and his family decided to settle in Australia. They even applied for citizenship, allowing Mandel to do business in the British Commonwealth countries.
Australian citizenship also meant that Stefan now had access to the UK lottery system. This hardly sounds like a coincidence to us. Seems like Mandel had a plan for another big win, this time it would be much harder than the last.
Perfecting His System
It was in Australia where Stefan set out to win his second lottery. This time he would take a different approach, setting the bar higher than the first win. The challenge, however, was gaining the manpower that he needed to guarantee another jackpot.
It took some time, but after a few years working a day job as an insurance agent, Mandel was finally able to set his plan in motion. He was able to recruit hundreds of investors, giving him the resources to fill a room full of computers and printers. This allowed him to computerize the ticket filling system, limiting the chance of human error.
Finding a Loop Hole
With his new lottery strategy in motion, Mandel also had to come up with a new formula that would better fit the UK lottery system. In a typical lottery, all you need is the right set of numbers, in no particular order, between a certain range. The chances of winning go up based on the number of possible combinations you purchase.
With this, Mandel caught on to a key factor; in certain lotteries, the total number of possible ticket combinations was lower than the winning jackpot amount. So, it would pay off to buy a ticket at $1 each for every single combination and be guaranteed a win. Since he now had the manpower and the investments necessary to do so, Mandel simply sought out to acquire as many tickets that he needed to submit all possible combinations.
A Full-Fledged Business
To put his new plan into motion and purchase enough tickets to submit every possible ticket combination, Mandel not only needed a team of committed investors but a team of ticket buyers as well. Stefan had now developed a highly organized system that would have employees purchasing and submitting tickets to stands and convenience stores all around the country.
It was beginning to look like a full-fledged business. So much so that Mandel made the smart decision of making it official. His lottery winning strategy was now deemed a real firm, only making his system and eventual winnings more legitimate than before.
Australian Wining Streak!
After his system was set into motion, now all Mandel and his investors had to do was wait until a jackpot reached a higher amount than total combinations, then proceed to buy thousands of tickets. And their plan worked wonders. Throughout the 1980s, Mandel and his team managed to win 12 lotteries.
In total, they won around $40 million in cash prizes from lotteries across Australia and the UK. Mandel had come a long way since his first lotto jackpot back in Romania. And all this was achieved through organized planning, a simple mathematical algorithm and the right amount of manpower.
Now you must be wondering, how is all this considered legal? Well, at the time, it was! At first, there was no law prohibiting one man to buy so many tickets for one lottery game. That it isn’t to say that the Australian lottery officials didn’t put rules into place in an attempt to prevent Mandel from continuing his winning streak.
After each win, the government would enact new rules or laws in hopes to put a stop to Mandel’s operation. At first, they made it illegal for one person to buy tickets in bulk, so Stefan found five partners in order to continue his plan, legally. Then the government made it illegal for groups to purchase all tickets in one lottery. So he created an entire lottery firm, making all his wins legitimate and legal.
Hitting a Wall
After some time, and 12 lottery wins, there were so many laws put in place against Mandel and his firm, that he was forced to rethink his strategy. He had come too far at this point to simply wave a white flag and call it quits. That being said, he knew there was no way he could keep winning legally in Australia.
Mandel was not discouraged by this. He was ready to think bigger. All he had to do was figure out where he needed to go to legally continue his operations. He was ready to pursue other territories that had yet to catch on to his system, even if that meant doing so remotely.
Looking to the U.S
Stefan Mandel, the lottery champion, was ready to conquer his next challenge. To do this, he looked to the United States where there were still no laws in place that would prevent him from taking over the market. It was only a matter of choosing which lottery would best fit his system.
There are many different lotteries across the different states of the U.S, each with their own set of rules and mechanics. Mendel had to do his research in order to figure out which state would be the easiest to maneuver. After much due diligence, he decided to concentrate his efforts on the state of Virginia.
High Hopes in Virginia
The Virginia lottery seemed like the obvious choice for Mandel. It’s lottery tickets were the cheapest around and there were only around 7.1 million number combinations, which might sound like a lot but when compared to other U.S lotteries, was far less intimidating.
Lastly, during the 1990s the Virginia lottery allowed players to print out their own tickets, making it much easier for Mandel to manage his strategy remotely. If he was to apply the same strategy as he did in Australia, this meant, at $1 per lottery ticket, Mandel needed to raise $7.1 million so that he could purchase all possible number combinations.
Making Moves from Afar
Mandel managed to recruit a large pool of Australian investors who each contributed enough to buy the tickets that would guarantee a win in Virginia. When the time would come, they would then print out all 7.1 million tickets while never leaving Australia. They would then need to have the tickets shipped to the U.S. to be processed and submitted.
Now, with the logistics set, Mandel and his team needed to sit tight and wait for the jackpot to reach an amount high enough to earn a significant profit. It took two years before the Virginia lottery jackpot reached $27 million. It was finally time to set the plan in motion.
Plan in Motion
Now that the jackpot in Virginia was set at $27 million, Mandel and his team had to act fast. They only had 72 hours to pull off their plan so they immediately sprang into action. Although tickets could be printed from home, allowing Mandel to print them from his office in Australia, they still needed to be taken to an authorized lotto retailer in the U.S.
Mandel decided to hire an American accounting firm to transfer $7.1 million in investor funds to a bank in Virginia. He then arranged advanced deals with Virginia-based retail chains that would allow his U.S point man to pay for the lotto tickets in bulk.
The Man on the Ground
In order to run this logistical nightmare, Mandel had to hire a point person on the ground. For this job, he hired a man by the name of Anithalee Alex, an oil prospector from Teutopolis, Illinois who happened to be a good friend of Mandel’s. When he received the call about the Virginia lottery plan, he was recovering from bankruptcy and $400 k in debt. Joining in on this deal seemed like a no brainer.
It was Anithalee’s job to coordinate the drop-off, payment, and processing of all seven million lottery tickets to hundreds of stores throughout Virginia. To do this, Alex was going to need a team. He assembled a group of 35 couriers and for two days they visited 125 gas stations and supermarkets, distributing their stack of tickets.
Although they had their plan worked out years before and tried to take all possible hiccups into consideration, there was one possibility that they did not consider. Ticket sales were overwhelmingly high in Virginia, so much so that at a certain point, the stores had to stop selling them.
Mandel and his team still had over one million number combinations that they had not purchased yet, so the probability of winning was no longer a sure thing. Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do about it and now they just had to wait and see if luck was on their side.
The Big Win!
In the end, it didn’t seem to matter that Mandel was one million tickets short, he and his team still took home a win. And a big one at that! Their plan could not have gone better. They not only won the big $27 million jackpot but also managed to bring home dozens of second and third prize winnings.
All in all, they won a total of $30 million. Alex later reflected on the moment when the live broadcast announced the jackpot-winning ticket; “When the $27m ticket came up, everybody was 6 feet off the ground.” He said, “It was the most incredible thing in the world.” The ticket had been purchased at a Farm Fresh in Chesapeake.
Just as you were skeptical about the legality of this intricate plan, so was the Virginia lottery. They did not hand over the winning money without a fight. Virginia Lottery director, Ken Thorson addressed the issue saying, “The lottery is an opportunity for the common man to spend a small sum for the possibility of a higher prize… We never anticipated a group trying to make such a large purchase.”
Although technically legal, lottery officials wanted to prevent Mandel from successfully “cheating the system.” Mandel spent four years attempting to claim his winnings as he was personally investigated by 14 international agencies, including the CIA, FBI and the IRS. Despite this, in the end, Mandel was able to claim his winnings.
Is His Strategy Replicable?
At this point, you are probably thinking, if Mandel could do this, then maybe I should too? Well, we wouldn’t recommend quitting your job and calling investors just yet. According to experts, Mandel’s strategy wouldn’t work today as it did for him, as lottery systems from around the world have since made it much harder to cheat the system.
There are now many added limitations put in place that prevent this type of bulk lottery strategy. For one thing, the number of possible combinations has increased significantly, making the odds even harder to manipulate. In addition, most lotteries will no longer let you print your tickets at home and it would be near impossible to buy all the tickets you need in time at the stores. That’s not even to mention the exact algorithm that Mandel relied upon to perfect his plan.
While Mandel did find success in the Virginia lottery, things took a bit of an unlucky turn in the years that followed. In 2004, Mandel returned to Israel where he was accused of fraud and later banned from returning to the country. Afterwhich, in 2016, while attempting to fly to the Caribbean Island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mandel was told at the airport that there was an arrest warrant placed on his name by Interpol.
It took some maneuvering and over 56 hours of flying around the world in order for Mandel and his wife to fly back to Vanuatu, an island off the coast of Australia where they currently live. To this day, Mandel is unable to leave the island, in fear of being arrested. While many news outlets advertise that Mandel is living a life of luxury on a tropical island, for Mandel, he feels he is wrongfully being held in an island sized “cage.”