Today’s Illustration: Won the Lottery 14x’s — By Covering All Your Bases

covering all your basesThere are several examples of individuals who have won the lottery multiple times. Perhaps, the most intriguing is Stefan Madel.

What: The man who won the lottery 14 times,” and won at his height of success — 27 million and 900,000 in secondary prizes.

When:  The drawing — 11:20 PM on February 15th, 1992

Who: Stefan Mandel, a Romanian Economist, “a mathematical savant” who was making $10 a month in Romania.

How: Mandel games the system. Mandel decided to buy every ticket number combination possible.

The Basic Details: 

“He was aware of other ill-fated attempts to game a US lottery by bulk-buying tickets: In 1990, a Sacramento retiree bought 30k tickets with a diaper bag full of cash and walked away empty-handed; months later, a computer engineer known as “The Phantom” purchased 80k combinations at a Jacksonville, Florida bar and only won minor prizes.

Even if Mandel were to win, there was the possibility of multiple winners — a scenario that could significantly dilute the jackpot.”

  • “Stefan Mandel spent more than a decade reading mathematical theories before winning his first lottery in the 1960s.”
  • “Well, Mandel wasn’t just any guy — he was a natural with numbers who spent every spare minute analyzing theoretical probability papers written by the 13th-century mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci. And, after years of research, he wrote a “number-picking algorithm” based on a method he dubbed “combinatorial condensation.”
  • His first try — “Mandel banded together with 4 friends, each of whom bought 228 tickets per draw. Miraculously (and with a lot of luck), he won the first prize of 72,783 lei (about US $2k, or $16.8k adjusted for inflation).”
  • Jackpot had to be at least 3X times the investment.
  • Had to print / fill out over 1.4 million lottery cards.
  • Had to deliver and pay for the cards at 100’s of lottery equipped stores.
  • Had to get other investors to pool their money and join.
  • “Mandel had to anticipate when to strike, and had to hope for the best that there wouldn’t be multiple winners to dilute the pot and ruin his margins.”
  • Virginia Lottery: Over 1.4 million combinations at $1.00 each – cost over $1.4 million
  • The Virginia lottery were the target.  Bought tickets all over Virginia
  • 72 hours to pull it off
  • “By Saturday evening, the team was nearing completion. Then, disaster struck. One of the chains who’d sold tickets in bulk got overwhelmed and quit in the final hours, leaving 140k tickets (700k combinations) on the table. When the deadline for entry arrived, around 1.24m of Mandel’s 1.4m tickets (of 6.4m of 7m combinations) had been processed. Mandel’s “fool proof” plan, which relied on securing every single possibility, was in jeopardy.
    Like a regular lottery, winning the jackpot would ultimately come down to luck.”
  • “We thought they were nuts,” Rick Miller, a local gas station proprietor, later admitted. “But if someone comes up and says they want to buy 700k lottery tickets, we’re not going to chase them away.”
  • “When the $27m ticket came up, everybody was 6 feet off the ground,” Alex later said. “It was the most incredible thing in the world.” Purchased at a Farm Fresh in Chesapeake, the ticket had been processed in the twilight hours. Alex’s diligence had paid off.”
  • “Just a few years later, in 1995, Mandel declared bankruptcy. “

Key Illustrative Thoughts:

  • winning
  • losing
  • all the possible combinations
  • hedging your bets
  • chance / luck
  • failure
  • success
  • danger
  • the prize
  • diligence
  • plans of men
  • achievement
  • eternity — all your bases covered
  • nuts
  • bankrupt
. . . . . . . 

Key Words & Phrases:

  • “diligence paid off”
  • “foolproof”
  • “disaster struck”
  • “nearing completion”
  • “ill-fated attempts”
  • “deadline arrived”
  • “it paid off”
  • “cheat the system”
. . . . . . . 

Sermonic Example:

[After including the details and facts you selected] . . . . .

He was confident that he had all his bases covered. All the possible 1.4 million combinations were printed on 1.4 million cards and distributed by 35 couriers to 100’s of hired ticket buyers, possessing 10,000 cards and $10,000 each. Now listen to what happened — disaster struck! 140,000 tickets were never processes because of an overwhelmed local ticket store machine. Mandel was now back to “chance” since there was a chance that one of those cards, which were never processed, had the winning number. While the odds are still in his favor, he could lose it all! There was nothing he could do about it at this point but hope that he had the winning number in his hands, and that it wasn’t on one of those other cards which never made it through the system.

There are a lot of people who think they have their bases covered when it comes to eternity. They are diligently trying to be a good person, go to church sometimes, believe in God, are doing what their religious leaders tell them they need to do, worship a multiplicity of gods, get baptized, take communion, observe mass, give money, be moral and honest — hoping at the end God will accept them at the end.

The deadline day will arrive and disaster will strike for some, probably for many.  All that time and effort will not have paid off because the plan was not foolproof — it was flawed . . . .

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