The Unbelievable Life of Lottery Winner Frane Selak

If you have lived a relatively normal life up until this point and are concerned that your life has been slightly dull, then don’t worry—because after reading this article you will be thankful for your normal life. In this article, we will look at the unbelievable life of lottery winner Frane Selak—a man who not only laughed at death once but seven different times.

Lottery Winner Frane Selak Holding TicketsWho is Frane Selak?

You may have unintentionally heard of Frane Selak previously—although probably not by hearing his name. Frane is more commonly known by the title of “the luckiest man alive”—a title also held by Bill Morgan, another lottery winner. However, this is also depending on who you ask, because others know him by the title the unluckiest man alive. Honestly, both of these titles have their merits when it comes to Frane’s life.

The stories of Frane’s crazy life began in 1962 when he was just 31 years of age. At the time, Frane was working as a simple music teacher—decidedly not the type of job that you would expect him to hold after hearing his story. However, he decided to travel from one city to another within his home country of Croatia. This decision is what began the snowball effect that caused Frane to have to cheat death over and over again.

The Death-Defying Life of Frane

In 1962, Frane boarded a train that was travelling from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik. To him, it was just going to be a train journey like any other. However, a fault in the train line soon changed the scenario. The failure in the train track caused the train to derail from the track and plunge viciously into a freezing river. Amazingly, Frane managed to escape the train and swim to shore—all while having a broken arm. According to the legends, 17 people died that day from the combined effects of the impact of the crash as well as drowning in the icy water. Frane, however, survived with just his broken arm and a case of hypothermia.

Only a year later in 1963, Frane urgently booked a flight from Zagreb to Rijeka in order to visit his mother who had fallen ill. As the plane was coming in to land, the unimaginable occurred. A fault in the door at the rear of the aircraft caused the door to burst open and to depressurise the plane. Frane was pulled out of the plane by the blowout and was thrown toward the earth while the plane when careening into a cliff—killing all 19 people on board. Frane landed in the most unlikely of places—a haystack in a field. Thanks to the haystack cushioning his fall, Frane sustained only minor injuries.

Frane Selak Falling Out of PlaneThree years after his brush with death in the skies, Frane was once again travelling—by bus this time. All was going well until ice on the road caused the bus to veer off the road and into yet another river. Frane once again swam to safety while four others perished in the water.

Frane realised that public transportation was clearly not for him. He, therefore, decided to travel by car going forward. This, however, did not work out for him either. In 1970, Frane was driving along when his engine spontaneously burst into flames. Naturally, Frane jumped from the car and ran—only moments before his gas tank caught alight and exploded. A mere three years later, Frane was once again driving his car when a faulty pump caused the vehicle to spray fuel and oil all over the engine. Needless to say that this volatile mix ignited and caused flames to shoot into the car. Yet again, Frane escaped with nothing more than some singed hair.

All was quiet after this incident until 1995 when public transport took another attempt at getting to Frane, but this time Frane was hit by a public bus while walking. Remarkably, he sustained only minor injuries and continued with his life until 1996 when, again, he would be given a chance to escape death’s clutches. While driving up a mountain pass, Frane suddenly found himself approaching a head-on collision with a truck. Thinking quickly, he steered his car into the guardrail, which promptly gave way under the weight of the car. There is some debate as to whether Frane was thrown from the car or jumped. What we do know is that he managed to land in a tree on the face of the cliff and held on while watching his car fall 300 feet below him before disintegrating.

Something Good—For a Change

You may think that after seven close encounters with death Frane would lock himself in his house and refuse to go outside. However, that is not the case. In 2003, two days after turning 73, Frane was in the news yet again—but not for the usual reason. This time, the older man had won a generous €900,000 by playing the lottery.

Soon after claiming his winnings, Frane purchased a home for him and his (fifth) wife as well as a boat. Frane was not heard of again until 2010 when he decided to sell his house and give almost all of his money to charity. When asked about his actions, he simply told the media that he and his wife were wanting to live a simpler and more frugal life.

Tall Tales and Disbelief

Frane most certainly has a story that you would imagine being portrayed in the best of Hollywood movies. This, as well as some discrepancies in the facts, have led to many people questioning the validity of his stories. In fact, many people have believed so firmly that they are false, that they have tried to search for proof of the 1962 train wreck and 1963 plane crash. All these searches have returned no results—leading weight to the fact that these stories may be slightly embellished.

However, whether it is because Frane could not remember the exact details, made the stories more extravagant, or simply told them as they happened, one thing is for sure—Frane lived one fantastic rollercoaster of a life. When asked about it, Frane replied by saying that he was either the luckiest man alive or the unluckiest—but he personally chose to believe the latter. While most people would agree he was not nearly as unlucky as Carl Atwood, who died hours after winning the lottery, looking at Frane’s life should help you count the blessings in yours much more regularly.


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