Lucky Number 7: Cheating death seven times before winning the lotto
We all know that when our luck is in we are encouraged to play the lottery. For anyone who scoffs at this notion, just mention the name Frank Selak - that'll teach 'em.
By Declan Whooley
It is hard to argue with the claims that Croatian music teacher is the luckiest man alive. He has managed to avoid death on seven occasions, each one more impressive than the previous incident.
Then to cap it all off, he won the National Lottery two years ago after playing for the first time... giving it all to charity. Frank, like all winners of large sums of money declares that “money can’t buy you happiness”. True, but it can most certainly put a smile on your face.
Like all good stories, let us start at the beginning; on a cold January day in 1962 Selak was aboard a train from Dubrovnik that derailed into an icy river killing 17 passengers. Surviving that in itself was an achievement, sure, but aul' Selak was only just getting started.
The following year he flew from Zagreb to Rijeka when the door of the plane blew off, killing 19 people. The Croat managed to avoid death by landing on a haystack - no, we're not joking. If it was a scene from a film you wouldn't believe it was possible, but Frank was still just getting warmed up.
In 1966 he was on a bus that plunged into a river and four people lost their lives with our lucky charm escaping without any injuries.
Frank at home in a rather fetching outfit
After plane, train and bus incidents, Selak was next involved in a car accident. Driving home in 1970 his car caught fire, with him managing to escape just before it exploded. Three years after, another one of his cars caught fire with flames blown through the air vent. Again he survived to tell the tale but did lose most of his hair in that particular incident... you might say it was another close shave (sorry, Frank).
After more than a gap of twenty years, Frank returned to his death defying ways. In 1995 he was in Zagreb where he was knocked down by a bus. The following year, while he was driving through a mountain road, Selak drove off a guardrail to escape an oncoming UN truck - falling 300 feet down the side of the mountain. He jumped clear at the last minute and sat in a tree as car disintegrated - though it was a Skoda, so that would have happened eventually anyway. To reacap, the final score read Death 0, Frank 7.
In 2005 Frank bought his first ever lottery ticket, and continuing his amazing lucky streak, he scooped £600,000 in the Croatian draw. He bought a luxury home on a private island, but in an interview with the Daily Telegraph two years ago, he admitted to living a ‘more frugal’ life.
A happily married Frank and his wife Katrina
He sold the house, gave away his fortune to family and friends and moved back to his home in Zagreb. The only money he kept was for a hip replacement... and to build a shrine to the Virgin Mary to give thanks for his fortunate life (which is fair enough). Though he was not always appreciative of his situation.
“I never thought I was lucky to survive all my brushes with death. I thought I was unlucky to be in them in the first place,” he admitted.
Now happily married to his fifth wife Katrina, Frank jokes that he has always been involved in mishaps. “I guess all the earlier marriages were disasters too.”
Now aged 83, Frank is enjoying a peaceful retirement and well he deserves it.