The maths whizz discovered a clever way of winning that meant he could start a new life
Using his method, Stefan claimed he could accurately predict five of the six winning numbers
We've all imagined what we would do with all of that money if we won the lottery.
Whether you'd buy a house or go on holiday, unfortunately winning that life-changing sum depends on dumb luck for the vast majority of us.
Not for Stefan Mandel - a Romanian economist who, struggling to make ends meet, came up with a genius solution to his problems: winning the lottery.
The maths whizz discovered a clever way of winning that meant he could start a new life - and it didn't involve breaking the law at the time. Jackpot.
He spent AGES poring over mathematical theories, and after years of research, he wrote a "number-picking algorithm" based on a method he called "combinatorial condensation" - The Hustle reported.
Using his method, Stefan claimed he could accurately predict five of the six winning numbers. This reduced the number of possible combinations in a lottery from millions to mere thousands.
With friends, he took a huge risk and purchased large blocks of lottery tickets with the combinations his formula has deemed to be most likely - and won first prize.
The jackpot sum was 78,783 Romanian lei - nearly £15,000. After paying off his expenses, Stefan walked away with around £3,000. It was enough to start a new life abroad and try his formula again.
Stefan persuaded a pool of investors to put their cash together to build a lotto syndicate and invented a clever system where computers filled out tickets automatically using every possible number combo.
They won 12 lotteries and thousands of smaller prizes across Australia and the UK.
Unsurprisingly, lottery authorities cottoned onto the scheme and changed rules to ban computer-printed forms and bulk buying tickets.
Stefan had a backup plan. He used his profits to place clued-up scouts around the US so he could determine which lottery would be a good bet for his next scheme.
He set his sights on Virginia because its numbers only ranged between one and 44, which meant the total number of possible combinations was far lower than others - increasing his chances of winning the big bucks.
He set up an official company, Pacific Financial Resources, persuaded investors to pour in the required cash and employed 16 people from a warehouse in Melbourne to print millions of tickets.
They won the jackpot and plenty of other smaller prizes.
Stefan pushed his luck too far after that win - and failed at setting up a lottery system in Gibraltar, filing bankruptcy in 1995. He served a 20 month prison sentence in Israel for an investment scam.
All US states have since passed laws banning the use of Stefan's zany strategy.
"I'm a man who takes risks, but in a calculated way," he told the Romanian paper Bursa in 2012.
"Trimming my beard is a lottery: There is always the possibility that I'll cut myself, get an infection in my blood, and die — but I do it anyway," he said.
"The chances are in my favour."
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