Stefan Mandel: The Genius Lottery Hacker
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different strategies available online that claim that they will help you win the lottery. While most of them are just the same strategy presented in different ways, there are a few that stand out as something that could possibly work—even though the chances that they will are not great. There was, however, a man who thought up a strategy that was so foolproof that it allowed him to win the lottery an astounding 14 times! Below, we will uncover how Stefan Mandel managed to hack the lottery and secure a massive cash windfall over quite a few years.
WHO IS STEFAN MANDEL?
Stefan Mandel was an average Romanian citizen that was living under Soviet rule in the 1960s. At the time, working as an economist, he was only earning a salary that equates to just USD $88 per month in today’s economy—meaning he was living in poverty and battling to feed his family. He was desperately searching for a way to make cash quickly while refraining from doing anything illegal. Using his mathematical abilities, he soon came up with a way to achieve his goal.
THE FIRST WIN
Stefan used his knowledge of mathematics and his insight as an economist to try and predict what the winning number combinations would be. While this may have done something to help his chances of winning, it was still a long shot. After four long years of attempting to perfect his formula before trying it out properly, Stefan felt that he was ready to try it out.
He first put this theory into practice with the help of three friends who agreed to pool their cash together to purchase the tickets for the state-sanctioned lottery, and they held their breath. Thankfully, Stefan’s theory struck gold, and the group won the jackpot—which was around $19,000, a pretty incredible sum of money if they were each making about $88 per month.
Stefan almost immediately used these winnings to bribe a government official to allow him and his family to leave the country. After a short stint in Israel, Stefan and his family settled down in Australia—which at the time was still part of the British commonwealth.
CONTINUOUS WINNING STREAK
After proving the viability of his formula and obtaining his Australian citizenship, Stefan again began looking at which lotteries he could score big from. Luckily for him, and thanks to his new Australian citizenship, he was able to look at lotteries in Australia and the UK.
However, this time around, Stefan did not want to leave the chances of winning down to luck and the correct prediction of the lottery numbers. Instead, he cleverly calculated every single number sequence—usually in the millions—that could possibly occur from a lottery draw. After he had calculated all these number sets, he would wait until the lottery jackpot reached three times the possible number sequences, to make the win a worthwhile amount.
Luckily for him, in the era that he wanted to carry out his plan, lottery tickets could be written or printed at home and then taken to a lottery dealer to be paid for and verified. Stefan quickly began building a team of workers and investors around him and put his plan of making them winners into action.
The plan worked like clockwork. For each draw that fit the requirements, Stefan would calculate the possible combinations, and his team would purchase all the combinations that could occur—guaranteeing a win. This method won Stefan and his team 12 lottery jackpots before the Australian and UK government caught on to his scheme. The governments quickly passed laws that prohibited a single person—or even a group of people—from purchasing tickets for every number combination.
While the total amount that Stefan and his crew managed to win during this time—which occurred throughout the 1980s—is unknown, we are pretty sure that they managed to obtain quite a decent amount of cash.
THE FINAL HACK
After the governments in both Australia and the UK began to close off the way that Stefan operated, he began to look elsewhere to see where he could use his—by then proven—lottery hack. He did endless research on the different lotteries as well as the laws that governed the regions that the lotteries were located in.
After completing his research in February of 1992, Stefan decided to apply his formula to the Virginia State Lottery. He chose this lottery primarily because the jackpot had just reached $27 million—a considerable amount of money back in those days! There was one problem with this: the draw was to happen within a week of when Stefan decided to go for it, and on top of that, he happened to be in Australia at the time.
However, since he had already lined up over 2,500 investors for a moment just like this, Stefan was not deterred. Almost immediately, he began printing out the 7.1 million lottery tickets that they would need to play in the lottery. These tickets would set the investors back a hefty $7.1 million, as the tickets were $1 each. Once all the tickets were printed—which according to a statement from Stefan himself, used between 20 and 30 tonnes of paper—the next problem that Stefan had to tackle was getting all the tickets to America. At this point, there were only three days left until the draw.
Stefan ultimately ended up paying $60,000 to ship all the tickets to America where one of his associates, Anithalee Alex Jr., would receive them. Then, using connections and agreements that Stefan and his team had made with shopkeepers around the Norfolk county, numerous accountants were dispatched to purchase the tickets in bulk using cashiers cheques.
If you think this is already way too much effort, it gets worse. Hours before the draw, no more shops were able to sell them tickets due to being out of stock of actual tickets. The team still had just over one million tickets to buy when every store turned them away. Stefan decided that they had no choice but to hope that the jackpot numbers were on a ticket they had already purchased—a massive gamble of investors’ money!
True to his hope, when the winning numbers of the Virginia Lottery were drawn on February 15, 1992, Stefan and his crew had the winning ticket. After an investigation by the Virginia Lottery and other state agencies (who found nothing illegal in the way the winning ticket was purchased), the group walked away with the $27 million jackpot as well as almost another $1 million in second-, third-, and fourth-place prizes.
It is estimated that each investor was asked to put down a payment of around $4,000. Unfortunately, it later came out that the return that they got on this amount was a measly $1,500. Stefan, however, is said to have awarded himself a generous $1.9 million ‘consultancy fee.’
LIFE AFTER THE BIG WIN
Immediately following Stefan’s win, America also revised its lottery laws to stop block purchasing of lottery tickets. Stefan headed back to Australia and decided to give up on trying to hack future lotteries.
In 1993, Stefan decided to attempt to start his own lottery that was to be based out of Gibraltar. Unfortunately, due to reasons unknown, the lottery failed miserably, and Stefan soon gave it up. He stayed under the radar and lived happily in Australia—that is, until 2004. In 2004, Stefan again made news, this time for his imprisonment in Israel.
Stefan had attempted to replicate the Virginia Lottery win with a local lottery in Israel. Unfortunately, he failed to disclose specific odds to investors and was soon charged with fraud and sentenced to 20 months in prison. After serving his sentence, Stefan returned to Australia.
WHERE IS STEFAN MANDEL NOW?
Today, Stefan is enjoying his retirement living on a tropical island off the coast of Australia called Vanuatu. While nobody is sure of what his current net worth is, we think it's safe to assume that he is comfortable and not in any need of cash. He's too smart not to be!
WOULD STEFAN’S STRATEGY WORK TODAY?
Many people have asked whether the same strategy used by Stefan to win 14 lotteries could be used today. The very straightforward answer is no. Lotteries today have much higher odds than they did back in the day. For example, the odds of winning the US Powerball are 1 in 292,201,338! That means to use Stefan’s strategy on the US Powerball you would have to buy just short of 300 million tickets!
Even if you could somehow manage this incredible feat, thanks to Stefan and his crew, purchasing lottery tickets in excessive bulk—whether you are an individual or company—is now illegal. Most countries have gotten wise to the schemes of people like Stefan and ensured that their lotteries cannot be hacked in a similar manner.
If there is one thing that we can most certainly learn from Stefan and his lottery story, it is that some multiple lottery winners had much more than mere luck; they had an uncanny ability to think outside of the box. However, Stefan’s win ultimately did come down to luck, as the winning lottery numbers for the Virginia Lottery draw could easily have appeared on a ticket that the group had not managed to purchase. And if that were the case, we would surely feel sorry for Stefan—if we had ever learned about him in the first place. For all we know, that one epic failure might’ve stopped him from ever trying again!
Whatever we may all think of his various schemes and generally questionable ethics, Mandel is certainly one of the craftiest people who hacked the lottery that we've ever heard of.