Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Winning Again and Again and Again…

Winning the lottery is one thing, but winning the lottery a few times over is the stuff only dreams are made of. This was the reality for Stefan Mandel – the Romanian mathematician who won the lottery not once, not twice, but 14 times over.

Stefan Mandel was born in Romania, and dedicated his life to mathematics. At the time, the subject was not highly valued and as a result, Stefan pursued Architecture at university. When things didn't work out, he felt confused about what he should do with his life and sought the counsel of his parents. Their question to him? "What is the thing you feel most comfortable doing?". The answer was clear to Stefan – mathematics. Everything about it just made sense to him. Stefan enrolled at the University of Bucharest and completed his studies in mathematics. Along the way, Stefan realised that mathematics was a highly disliked subject among society, and made it his mission to change people's attitude about mathematics through teaching, blogging and seminars.

Another thing Stefan realised is that he could work out a way in which to win lotteries using combinations of numbers. In an interview with Alex Goldmark, he shared that this journey started in the 1950s where he played the Romanian lottery. He did a lot of research and planning, and came up with a formula for buying blocks of tickets that would guarantee him a winning prize. Stefan looked at the number of possible combinations that would be available to him, for example, in one lottery where players choose 6 numbers out of 59, there would be 45 million different combinations. Stefan would do this for each lottery he played, and would work together with his syndicate to purchase every possible combination for that lottery. An expensive venture indeed, but when you win over 13 lotteries, it is a venture you can afford!

In 1992, after being outlawed in Australia, Stefan looked elsewhere in the world to see where he could win another lottery. He came across the Virginia lottery, which had 7.1 million combinations. Stefan calculated that he would need to wait for the jackpot to reach over $25 million if he were to make a profit after winning, as his outlay in purchasing all of the tickets and sharing the payout with other players would be too high. The process took 3 months, during which time all 7.1 million tickets were printed and shipped to America. Stefan shared that he was not surprised when he won as he was confident that his operation had secured him the jackpot. This was Stefan's 14th and final lottery win – a total of $27 million.

While many have aspired to replicate Stefan's strategy, experts say it simply cannot be done anymore. Not only would printing all of the tickets be a logistical impossibility, but the number of combinations and likelihood of sharing the winnings with others is too greater. Stefan Mandel remains one of a kind – a 14-time lottery winner whose legacy will be the envy of players around the world for many years to come.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Jack Whittaker

Andrew Jackson Whittaker, Jr. also known as Jack Whittaker, has become one of the best-known lottery winning stories. Sadly the story of Jack Whittaker isn't a very positive one, although he was fortunate to make the list of jackpot winners.

On Christmas day in December 2002 he won $314.9 million (the largest jackpot ever won at the time by a single winning ticket) and at the time, he was also known as the wealthiest man to ever win the lottery.

The 55 year old West Virginia construction Diversified Construction Company President, who was already worth over $17 million, decided to purchase a ticket whilst stopping at the Hurricane supermarket in West Virginia to buy a sandwich and get fuel for his vehicle. The winnings for his ticket were either $314.9 million annuity or $170.5 million cash. Whittaker chose the cash option, which was $113 million. Jack was very generous with his winnings as he donated 10% of his fortune to Christian charities and donated $14 million to establish his own foundation (a foundation that gives clothing and food to poor families in the Rural West Virginia), the Jack Whittaker Foundation and even gave a $123, 000 house, a truck and $44,000 cash to the woman who worked at the convenience store where he purchased his winning ticket.

Sadly, the saying "the root of all evil is money", isn't too far off in Jacks case. After winning the jackpot, his personal problems and legal challenges got the better of him and he started drinking heavily, frequently visiting strip clubs.

On the 5th of August 2003, nearly a year after he won the jackpot, thieves broke into his car and stole $545,000 whilst he was visiting a West Virginia strip club. In January in 2004, his car was once again broken into and thieves stole another $200,000, but this was later recovered. In 2004 his granddaughter's boyfriend died of an overdose and a few months later his granddaughter was found dead, wrapped in plastic and dumped behind an old van.

Jack turned to alcohol and gambling and was sued by the Caesars Atlantic City casino for bouncing $1.5 million worth of cheques to cover gambling losses.
In July 2009, Ginger Whittaker Bragg, Jacks 42 year old daughter was found dead in Daniels in West Virginia, no foul play was suspected. Jack, in these dark moments of his life, blames the fact that he won the jackpot for all his misfortune in his life. He stated to reporters at the time of his daughter's death that he wished he had torn the ticket up.

On 2 December 2016, almost 14 years after winning the jackpot, Jacks home in Bland County, Virginia burnt to the ground. Fortunately, although his wife was home, no one was injured. Sadly, Whittaker stated that the house was not insured.

It takes good preparation when winning a jackpot, follow our tips on our blog "what to do when you win the lottery".

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Double or Nothing

We all dream of winning the lotto jackpot, or even just a few hundred thousand. But imagine winning twice! One lucky man in South Africa did just that.

We expect a rag to riches story in most cases but in this case the twice lucky winner of the South African Lottery was a successful businessman from Limpopo Province. The 34-year-old, who has chosen to remain anonymous, won his first jackpot of R11 million in 2002. A mere seven years later, in 2009, he went on to win a whopping R30 million in the Powerball’s inaugural jackpot prize.
The odds of the same person winning both lotteries are positively galactic, but somehow he did just that. Statistics show that he beat odds of 14 million to one to scoop his first jackpot prize, and a whopping 24 million to one to claim the second. However, he is not the record holder, that title goes to a man from Idaho, USA, who has won the lottery three times!

Despite these two big wins, the 34-year-old seems to have kept his wits about him and remains startlingly humble. After winning the first time he stated that he only spent about R100 per month on lotto tickets. Upon winning the second time, a larger R30 million, he politely declined the offer for a car to pick him up, preferring to drive himself to the Gidani offices in Midrand to claim his prize. Perhaps because of his background in business, this lucky man is still riding on the success of his two lotto wins and has said that he knows how precarious his situation is; the temptation to spend the vast amounts of money and announce to the world that you’ve made it big is positively overwhelming.

With his first win, he chose to use the money to stabilize his business and secure his assets. Upon winning a second time, he remained as level-headed as ever and stated that he would like to invest a large portion into the future of his four children and then venture into property development, which had shown to be a consistently strong sector. With the property development, he hopes to simultaneously be able to address the plight of the many homeless people in our South Africa. And whilst the details remain unclear, one thing is certain, this man and his children surely have a successful and bright future in store. 

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Thursday, September 07, 2017

Aspiring Billionaire Wins Lottery

Most tales of winning the lotto end in the winner frivolously spending their winnings and ending up right where they started. Either that or the famous curse of the lotto where big jackpot winners seem to meet a rather untimely end, although I’m sure their ends are not as accidental as they seem. One man has neither frittered his winnings away nor met any Final Destination like end; meet Brad Duke.
Brad was a regular guy.

He had bought a house, had a good job as manager of Gold Gym’s fitness centre in The Treasure Valley, Idaho and cycled every Saturday morning. On the 28th of May, a Saturday like every other, he stopped at Jackson’s Food Mart on the way to a race to buy fuel for his car and himself.  He also decided to play Powerball using his “winning” numbers; a while back Brad had developed a number structure by analysing popular lotto numbers which he then formed into a pattern and played every week for four years, these “hot” numbers were 5, 7, 24, 28, 29 and 36.

That Saturday he went on, rode a good race, had drinks with some friends and then went on home. An ordinary day like every other before it, the Powerball ticket already forgotten. It was only when a friend mentioned that someone in the area had won the jackpot but had not come forward to claim their prize that he remembered. When he stopped for fuel again he asked that his ticket be put through the machine. He had won. A dead giveaway by the way the girls in the store screamed hysterically, telling him he’d won, he’d actually won! As most would be, he was in a state of shock but carefully took his ticket and walked to his truck where he just sat. To this day he still can’t remember whether or not he actually paid for his fuel! The first person he called, from his truck, was his dad. He then waited over two weeks before coming forward to claim his prize. During this time, the business savvy man put together a team of advisers including a lawyer, a financial adviser and a publicist; a wise choice for anyone winning a whopping $220 million.

See more Powerball winners stories here.

What captured our eye about this story though was not the amount or the fact that he is still riding on the success of his win, but that upon winning, he had boldly stated that his goal was to turn the winnings into $1 billion in 15 years. Quite a goal if you ask us.

Brad decided to take the full amount instead of being paid out monthly, this meant he received a check for $126 million and after tax, was left with $86 million, considerably less than the actual jackpot but still an amount I’d be happy to pocket.  One thing Brad knew was that he didn’t want to end up like so many other winners who had lost their entire fortune by squandering it. So what did he actually do with his winnings? Well he started off in the most logical manner. He paid off his mortgage and student loan, bought a used VW Jetta, made an annual gift of $12 000 to all his family members, splurged a little by going to Tahiti with 17 of his friends, oh and of course he bought some new bicycles. He then cleverly invested the rest and continued working. However, two and a half years later he quit his job as he was tired of being hounded by people and managing his new wealth was taking up a fair amount of his time.

So where is Brad Duke now? Well, a little behind on his goal apparently but still managing to increase his wealth exponentially. If he does eventually succeed, no matter how late, we have to acknowledge that he has mastered a secret known to the rich: delayed gratification.
And if you’re wondering, he has spent many dollars on charity. Not only a smart, wealthy man but also one with a big heart. 

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