You’re probably wondering how in the hell someone can win the lottery 14 times. Did they have the inside scoop on which numbers were to be drawn? Could they somehow see into the future? Or were they just the luckiest son of a gun ever to grace god’s green earth?

The answer is none of the above. Instead, the man who won the lottery at total of 14 times was a damn genius. Not only because he figured out how to beat the system, but also for the sheer effort that he put into pulling off this elaborate scheme.

Called Stefan Mandel, this Romanian born lottery savant ended up winning the lottery 14 times in his life. This translates into millions of dollars. Perhaps surprisingly, he didn’t even do anything illegal. As you’ll see from the following article, Mandel simply figured out how to game the system.

So before you head out and try to replicate Mandel’s success, remember that times have changed. You’re better off playing our online pokies and attempting to trigger those lucrative progressive jackpots. If you want some winning inspiration though, the story of the man who won the lottery 14 times will give you some serious motivation.

Off to a good start in communist-era Romania

Stefan Mandel grew up in Romania when it was still under communist rule. There weren’t many ways that a man could get ahead in this society and many people lived in abject poverty. Your only hope was to luck out and score a government position, break the law or win the lottery.

After landing a job as an economist at a Romanian mining company, Mandel began playing the lottery using his surplus income. Before long he had begun scheming a way to beat the lottery odds and escape Romania. First he had to come up with a guaranteed way to win, then he had to pull it off. It took a long time but finally Mandel discovered a math formula that could predict nearly all of the winning numbers on a ticket – 5 out of 6 to be exact.

This was Mandel’s one-way ticket to freedom, but it took him another four years to get together some mates and test out whether his formula was legit. He set his expectations on a second-place win, but to the shock of everyone involved him and his mates actually managed to win the jackpot. The total prize was 72,783 Romanian Leu, which is roughly $17,000 or nearly 20 years of his salary at the time.

All bribes lead to Israel

Now that Mandel had some cash, it was time to get out of Romania while the getting was good. Since he was Jewish, Israel was the obvious choice.

It wasn’t so far as to become too expensive and he had some family that he could reconnect with. The problem was that the Romanian government wasn’t too keen on allowing its citizens to bail. Especially if it was for the sole motivation of wanting a better life. Because of this, there were only three ways that Mandel could guarantee safe passage out of the country:

  • Bribe
  • Bribe
  • Pretend to be Bulgarian (jokes… bribe some more)


Finally, after escaping communist-era Romania and settling down in Israel, Mandel thought his lottery swindling days were over. The desire to make easy money, however, proved too strong. After only living in Israel for a short time he set his sights further abroad. Somewhere that was far away from Romania, Europe and Israel. That place just happened to be Australia. The home of Fair Go and Kev the Koala.

Finding fortune in the Land Down Under

Mandel reached Australia in the 1980s during a time when the quality of life was high but the cost of living was low. He soon received Australian citizenship and got to work refining his formula. One of the benefits to becoming an official fair dinkum bloke was that he not only had access to Australia’s lottery, but also to the UK lottery.
This led to Mandel concocting his biggest dash for cash yet using a 6-step formula that had since been perfected. And while this formula can no longer work due to the fact that it’s not possible to buy lottery tickets in bulk or print them at home, we thought we’d share it to indulge your curiosity:

  1. Calculate the total number of possible combinations
  2. Find lotteries where the jackpot is three times or more the number of combinations
  3. Raise the funds in order to pay for each and every combination
  4. Print out the tickets with every combination (this means millions of tickets)
  5. Submit the tickets to authorised dealers
  6. Win the jackpot and split your winnings with any investors

Becoming Australia’s luckiest lottery player

Confidence, a comfortable living situation and no short amount of Aussie luck all combined to embolden Mandel. He soon realised that with his formula and an army of ticket buyers, he could become one of the Australian lottery’s most prolific winners.
After this realisation it was simply a matter of putting his plan into action. This involved engaging hundreds of people to purchase tickets and then sending out others to then submit them to the many newsagencies around the country. He had to be organised in order for his plan to work, but by all accounts he was a lottery mastermind – even going as far as to keep all ticket receipts in a storage centre.

Once one of his tickets was announced a winner, Mandel would send someone to turn it over to an authorised dealer and claim his jackpot. He then distributed the winnings to everyone who invested in his scheme plus his loyal army of runners. Using this system, Mandel managed to win the lottery a total of 12 times (his 13th overall) whilst residing in Australia.

Of course, his success did eventually raise some eyebrows. This wasn’t communist-era Romania by any means, but the Australian government did notice that something was a bit fishy. This led them to enact a number of laws in order to combat the strategies that Mandel was using, such as making it illegal for one man to purchase all tickets and another that made buying tickets for groups of individuals illegal.

Rather than give up, Mandel found a workaround and established a sort of lottery business. This continued all the way up until it became too difficult to win in Australia. At this point, Mandel looked abroad once again for fresh hunting grounds. Next stop… the USA.

Setting his sights on the Virginia lottery

At this point in time the USA didn’t have the same laws as in Australia, presumably because they hadn’t encountered the rampaging Romanian Stefan Mandel. This meant that the lotteries there were ripe for the picking, but not before Mandel identified one that suited his special formula.

After doing some due diligence, it was decided that the Virginia lottery was to be the target. There were only 1.7 million combinations to choose from and the tickets were cheap. All Mandel has to do was recruit over 2,000 investors from Australia and get each of them to chip in. He did this easily and two years later, when the Virginia jackpot lottery total had reached a staggering $27 million, Mandel and his cronies pulled the trigger.

Their operation was launched and they began to buy up every possible winning combination and process them. There was a major speedbump though that Mandel and his team couldn’t anticipate – stores began running out of tickets. This meant that by the time the lottery was finally called, there were still around 1 million combinations that hadn’t been purchased.

This was cause for concern, but by the time the numbers were read out it no longer mattered. Mandel and his mates claimed the $27 million jackpot in spectacular fashion along with plenty of other placed and minor wins. All in all they raked in over $30 million, which came to over $12,000 for each member.

An island in the sun

Like all fairytale stories though, Mandel’s came to an abrupt halt. In 2004 he was arrested while trying to pull the same stunt in Israel and imprisoned for a brief stint in a cell. It’s not all bad news though.

After finally being released from said prison, Mandel flew to Vanuatu, bought a house on the beach and retired on an island in the sun. To this day nobody knows what his net worth is or how much he managed to earn his investors. If he ever wanted to become a Fair Go member though, we would need to make sure he read our terms and conditions.

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