When Tsutomu Yamaguchi survived two nuclear bombs in 2 days in Japan during World War II, he became the luckiest man in the 20th century. As the new century came, more wishes of good luck were passed between 7 billion human tongues an uncountable number of times but not so many materialized. However, in the young 21st century, some people have had too much luck to explain, some even surpassing Tsutomu’s. From death cheaters to lottery winners, these people continue to defy all odds to become the luckiest people on earth. These are the ten most remarkable stories that lucky people were able to share with the world.
1. Marteen De Jonge
The year 2014 brought two major airplane disasters just four months apart, and this cyclist escaped both of them. Marteen De Jonge who was traveling both times for rides with his Malaysian riding team Terengganu changed his mind on the MH17 flight that was shot down in Ukraine as he wanted to avoid a stopover in Beijing. The flight was shot down by Pro Russia rebels in Eastern Ukraine killing all the passengers. He also had a ticket for the Malaysian flight MG370 which went off course and was never found. This time, he wanted to save money by moving to a cheaper flight that was going through Frankfurt. The resulting story was a total shocker; he was simply the luckiest man in 2014.
2. Reshma Begum
A textile factory collapse in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka was one of the worst industrial tragedies in the century. The building collapsed after clear warnings regarding cracks noticed on the building by employees. They were told to stay indoors and work. When the building collapsed, and 1100 people were killed. Reshma Begum became the sole beneficiary of fellow employees’ lunches in what would have been her last meal. She was buried under the rubble for 17 straight days forced to scrap the lunch boxes for food. Just before search and rescue operations were shut down, Reshma was found weak but alive. She made frantic noises and kicks at the rubble minutes before the close of the operation making her one of the few people that have survived longest in such conditions. She also got a better job at a luxury hotel after becoming the hero of Bangladesh.
3. Joan Ginther
People have won huge lotteries before, a gamble of 1 over 14 million but the probability of winning four is near impossible. The dream of winning a lottery once in a lifetime is the wish of everyone, but Joan Ginther seems to have synced with the system as she won 4 times. She did not win some pennies, each time her draw earned millions leading to skepticism from some experts who believe she cheated the system. Her first win was $5.4 million in 1993. She drew two more lotteries in 2003 and won $2 million and $3 million after two years.
Her luck was only started, she later won $10 million in 2008 raising the IRS eyebrows because they no longer believed it was luck. To cheat the system, Ginther would have to figure out the numbers, monitor their delivery and ensure no one else buys them, a line of events that can not be possibly followed by one person. Her winnings may be associated with determination, but millions of people buy lotteries all their lives without winning even one. Maybe she was born near a lottery machine.
4. Virginia Fike
Here is the other woman that beat one in a septillion odd at a lottery, unlike Joan Ginther’s four lotteries, Virginia Fike just won two, but she did it on the same day. It was a record breaker. She drew two tickets with numbers matched to her parents’ anniversaries and birthdays. Each of the tickets worth $1 million was bought at the same store. These are total luck because the drawing of Powerball lotteries involve matching five numbers with each number on the Powerball, matching the two in the same draw is even harder. The Virginia lottery which had an $80 jackpot was not won by anyone that day, but Fike’s draws are the first one of their kind in the state. If her parent’s anniversary was the answer to her million dollar dream, maybe we should try it out too.
5. Harrison Odjegba Okene
People survive wrecked ships by floating or swimming ashore, even then, not many survive for three days but Harrison Odjegba Okene did something else. He was in the toilet when Jacson 4 the boat he worked on as a cook capsized. It was impossible to swim to the surface, so he stuck his face sucking air from an air pocket underwater for three days. Of course, the air was running out, and dehydration was setting in and hypothermia from the sub-zero degrees, but he held onto his wife’s last message as a source of hope until rescue came. The team sent to salvage the wreck and collect the dead bodies found all the other 12 members of the crew dead. He was however located under the wreckage where the rescuers were even shocked to find him moving. He later became the first man to cheat death under Ice on the Atlantic, quite a survivor that one.
6. Melvin Roberts
Lightning never strikes twice was proved literally when Melvin Roberts the lightning attractor was hit 11 times! Yes, 11 times. Being hit by lightning once has a probability of 1/700, 000 and maybe 1/1,000,000 when hit twice but when that number reaches 11, mathematics is defied. He suffered memory loss as a result of the many strikes, but he still remembers the first time he was struck while mowing.
The frequent strikes are associated with his hearing disability. He doesn’t hear thunder correctly leaving him open to more hits. The actual count has not been recorded, but his wife confirmed he was struck another four times after the 2011 incident when the number had reached 6. While giving an interview in 2011, he explained just how it feels to be struck by lightning. He lost nerve function in his hands and legs, developed speech problems and also suffered memory loss. The funny bit is that he said it doesn’t hurt, well at least at first. Maybe lightning also makes friends.
7. Andres Helstrup
Skydiving is risky, it has many dangers waiting for the diver below, but there has been no record of a threat from space until this man had to escape one. Andres Helstrup became the first man to skydive below a meteor which scientists confirmed had stopped glowing at the time of the fall in 2012. He never chose that fate though; the meteor descended while Andres was making a jump, it hurtled behind him live on camera turning him into the meteor man. The rock did not hit him, but he became the most famous skydiver for having survived an “alien attack.” The area in southern Norway has been combed for years since the incident in 2012, but the rock was ever found maybe it went back to space. Well, just maybe.
8. Frano Selak
Frano Selak is probably the luckiest man ever to walk the earth. He moved from the most famous death cheater of the 20th century to a lottery winner in the 21st. Quite amazing right? His first encounter with death came in 1962 when his train crashed into an Icy river killing 17 people; he escaped with hypothermia, a broken arm, and a few bruises. He made his most epic escape in 1963 when his first ever flight struck misfortune with the door flying open killing 19 people. The death cheater landed on a haystack and lived to tell the tale decades later. He survived a bus accident again by swimming ashore from the river where four people died two years later.
Selak’s stories soon turned into fairy tales when he survived a fifth accident from his car which burst in flames. He ran just in time before the engine exploded. He survived two more accidents including being hit by a bus before the century ended. His fortune however changed when he won more than $1 million in a 2003 lottery draw allowing him to buy new houses and even marry a fifth time. At 81, he decided to conclude his life with charity giving away his winnings to some relatives and retiring to live happily with his new wife.
9. Bill Morgan
Unlike Frano Selak who escaped death, Bill Morgan came back from the dead and won the lottery, not once but twice. He was working as a truck driver when he was involved in a fatal crash that gave him a heart attack. The staff at the hospital gave him a drug he is allergic to forcing his heart to stop in which he was declared dead for 14 minutes. Things started changing when he was declared alive again and in a coma for about 12 days before the family decided to remove life support. Instead of dying, the man woke up!
He was later discharged and played a lottery after quitting his job. He won a 17,000-dollar car, but luck was not done with him just yet. While on live a TV show demonstrating how he had won the lottery, he scratched another card only to win $250,000 making him the luckiest man in Australia and the better part of the 21st century. Maybe luck and death are adversaries after all.
10. John Lyne (Unlucky John)
John Lyne’s name changed to ‘Unlucky John’ after he survived more deaths than most humans in 54 years. He was born with underdeveloped lungs and grew up accustomed to death escapes after he fell from a horse cart and got run over by a delivery van at the same time. He became what some would call the unluckiest man alive when he escaped even more deaths as an adult. The most epic one was surviving a rock fall in a mine. He was also hit by a stone launched by a catapult losing eight teeth. He broke his arm when he fell from a tree; the doctors could not treat him that day, when they went back the following day, their bus hit a lorry and broke a second bone in his arm.
He later survived being struck by lightning and three car crashes. His misfortunes didn’t end there, he nearly drowned and subsequently got hit by a bus among other life-threatening events. Many people consider him unlucky after surviving way too many accidents. He, however, considers himself the luckiest man alive, his family and friends no longer get surprised when told he has escaped death, it has become part of his life. His misfortunes have however left him with many physical disabilities, but he is the father of all death cheats.