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### Math Wizz used Probability to Beat Lotto

December31

Romanian economist Stefan Mandel was struggling to make ends meet. So he came up with an unlikely solution — winning the lottery. But while most people who dream of scooping the jackpot rely on dumb luck, Mandel had other ideas.

Mandel spent his spare time poring over probability papers penned by mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci — and after years of painstaking research, he devised a “number-picking algorithm” which drew on a method he called “combinatorial condensation”.

Under that method, Mr Mandel boasted he could predict five out of six winning numbers — a feat which reduced the number of possible winning combinations down to thousands instead of millions. Along with a group of friends, he bought huge amounts of tickets using all the possible combinations and ended up taking out the top prize — worth over \$A26,000.

After paying expenses, he was left with just \$A5400, but it was more than enough to bribe officials and escape Romania’s Communist system, and move to Australia to start a new life with his wife and two kids.

But his lotto racket was just getting started — and unlike notorious US lotto scammer Eddie Tipton, Mr Mandel eventually won the lottery 14 times without breaking a single law. Mr Mandel realised that in some draws, the total cost of buying a ticket to play every possible combination was much lower than the grand jackpot prize. Mr Mandel realised that in some draws, the total cost of buying a ticket to play every possible combination was much lower than the grand jackpot prize. Did he get caught?

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