Mathematics – the language of the universe. With it, you can put a rocket into space, fly an aeroplane full of people across the ocean and evidently, fix the lottery in your favour.
Stefan Mandel used maths to calculate which block of lottery tickets he should buy in order to guarantee him a win, researching a tonne of papers before buying even a single ticket.
And it worked. His first win in the 1950’s earned him enough money to move him and his family to Australia. Here he honed his craft and recruited more investors for his lottery racket.
It worked so well that he won a staggering twelve times. Imagine how peeved you’d be as a lottery normie going up against a high ranking lottery lord. Pretty dang peeved I reckon.
Being the nation of killjoys that we are, laws were passed to prevent him from practicing his mathematical witchcraft any further. But that wasn’t going to stop him.
Stefan Lottery-Mad-Dog Mandel set his sights on the 1992 Virginia draw worth $27 million. After working out that it would need to be above $25 million for it to be a profitable venture, the plan was set in motion.
The whole thing took them around three months, printing out 7.1 million tickets in Australia and paying $60,000 to have them shipped to the US. They then had to sort out terms for bulk-buying these tickets from grocery stores, sending them cashier’s cheques for payment.
He won first prize, several second and third prizes and thousands of minor prizes. Nailed it.
Reckon you’re a good enough maths nerd to pull off a similar feat? Fat chance, says NPR’s Planet Money Producer Alex Goldmark.
“The number of combinations have grown too much, you wouldn’t be able to print the tickets, you wouldn’t be able to buy them in time and you probably couldn’t even do the maths right to figure it out without making a mistake.”
Mandel has since quit the lottery game and is currently living in the South Pacific on a tropical island. Unbelievably cool.