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13 Unluckiest People In The World

13 of the unluckiest people in the world

Ana D.D.
by Ana D.
February 29, 2024

Read up on the remarkable tales of some of the world’s most ill-fated people, from the person who lost out on a multi-million-dollar jackpot to the man who was struck by lightning seven times. We present the official top 13 unluckiest people in the world.

1. Costis Mitsotakis

First on our list is Greek filmmaker Costis Mitsotakis. In 2011, the small village of Sodeto celebrated a huge windfall, with all but one household winning a share of the $950 million “El Gordo” lottery jackpot. Unfortunately, local resident Costis missed out on the life-changing prize, as the Housewives Association overlooked him when selling tickets.

2. Frane Selak

Frane Selak, known as the “man who survived death seven times”, could either be the luckiest or the unluckiest person in history, depending on how you look at it. The Croatian music teacher faced extraordinary circumstances throughout his life.

Born on a boat in 1929, he survived seven serious accidents, involving buses, trains, and cars. He was even sucked out of a plane, but somehow managed to land safely in a haystack. Despite numerous near-death experiences, Selak never wore a seatbelt. In a remarkable twist of fate, he won almost $1 million in the lottery at the age of 73, but he gave most of it away to friends and family.

3. Roy Sullivan

Nicknamed the “human lightning rod”, Roy Sullivan holds the Guinness World Record for surviving an incredible seven lightning strikes. Despite the astronomical odds – around twenty-two septillion to one – Sullivan's misfortune included being struck four times in just five years between 1969 and 1973. In a bizarre incident, after his seventh strike while fishing, Sullivan had to fend off a bear attempting to steal his trout, showcasing the power of human resilience against adversity.

4. Melanie Martinez

Melanie Martinez lost four homes to hurricanes—Betsy in 1965, Juan in 1985, George in 1998, and Katrina in 2005. A reality TV show transformed her Braithwaite house, but on August 29 (seven years after Katrina), Hurricane Isaac struck, claiming her fifth home. Rescued with her family, kittens, and dogs, she lamented: "Now I've lost five houses to five storms. Every time, a wipe-out."

5. Tsutomu Yamaguchi

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, at 29, miraculously survived the atomic bomb attacks on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Two miles from Hiroshima's ground zero on 6 August 1945, he suffered minimal injuries. Returning to Nagasaki, he encountered the second blast on 9 August. Yamaguchi was dubbed “Niju Hibaku” (twice bombed) and lived until 93 years old as the lone official survivor of both catastrophic events.

6. Henry Ziegland

For two decades, Texan farmer Henry Ziegland may have believed he was the luckiest man alive. In 1893, a scorned lover's brother shot at him, but the bullet just grazed his face before hitting a tree and getting lodged in there. Twenty years later, while felling trees, Ziegland discovered the bullet and decided to blow up the tree. The explosion propelled the bullet, fatally striking him in the head.

7. James Howells

For years, Welshman James Howells has been on a daunting quest to locate a computer hard drive that was accidentally dumped in a landfill back in 2013. The hard drive reportedly holds a staggering 8,000 Bitcoin, believed to be valued at over half a billion dollars. Despite Howells' pleas to Newport City Council to excavate the site and retrieve the hard drive, they refuse, and it remains lost to this day.

8. John Lyne

Meet Calamity John, hailed as Britain's unluckiest man, having endured 16 major accidents from lightning strikes to car crashes. Born with underdeveloped lungs, his survival set a pattern for a life of mishaps. In his teens, he broke an arm falling from a tree, and then broke it again in a bus crash on Friday the 13th.

9. Violet Jessop

The Argentinian-born daughter of Irish immigrants, Violet Jessop, dubbed “Miss Unsinkable”, faced extraordinary maritime misfortunes as an ocean liner stewardess and nurse. Present on both the RMS Titanic and HMHS Britannic when they sank, she also experienced an at-sea collision on the RMS Olympic. Despite these incidents, she returned to ship duty in 1920, retired at 63, and lived to the ripe old age of 83.

10. Ann Hodges

Ann Hodges earns her spot on our “top 10 unluckiest people in the world” due to a rare meteorite incident. The Alabama resident was struck by a meteorite while at home, becoming the first documented person ever to have been hit by a space rock. The extraordinary event saw the rock crash through her ceiling, rebound off her radio, and hit her thigh.

11. John Wade Agan

John Wade Agan's life resembles a dramatic movie script, featuring a lightning strike, gunpoint robbery, stabbing, and two simultaneous snake bites. Experts have cast doubt on some of his stories, however, highlighting the unlikelihood of being bitten by two different snakes at the same time.

12. Erik Norrie

Erik Norrie seems to attract bad luck like a magnet. From a rattlesnake bite to a shark attack, monkey assault and lightning strike, his catalogue of close calls reads like a real-life nightmare. Despite losing a chunk of his leg to a shark, he's still alive and kicking.

13. Harry Jenkins

Harry Jenkins' ice fishing trip took a disastrous turn in Akeley, Minnesota. Having illegally obtained a stick of dynamite, Jenkins lit it and threw it across Ten Mile Lake to create a fishing hole. His Labrador, Jerry, who tragically was not on a leash, went to fetch and return it, leading to a chaotic chase. The ensuing explosion not only claimed Jerry’s life, but also sank their truck. Adding insult to injury, Jenkins' insurance claim for the sunken truck was denied.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Melanie Martinez is often considered the unluckiest person in history due to losing five houses to natural disasters.

Roy Sullivan is considered the unluckiest person, as he has been struck by lightning seven times. His improbable encounters with lightning earned him the title of the world's unluckiest individual.

Determining the exact number of unlucky people is impossible, as misfortune varies widely. However, we have listed the top 13.

Frane Salek is often considered the luckiest unlucky man in history. His miraculous survival from a plane crash and lightning strike, and fortunate lottery win later in life, has earned him this title.

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Whether you like it or not, luck plays a crucial role in gambling. And while many would argue that it’s an unreliable force, for many Indians, the ancient tradition of Vedic astrology offers a way to understand how luck works in the universe and how one could potentially manipulate it to work in one’s favour.

Vedic astrology (known as Jyotish in Sanskrit) is the practice of studying planetary positions, celestial influences, and karmic patterns to understand how these influence and shape human lives and destinies.

When it comes to gambling, some Indians look to Vedic astrology to boost their chances of success. By analysing astrological charts and horoscopes, and identifying cosmic connections, gamblers seek to find the most advantageous time to gamble, looking for lucky combinations of numbers, or even charms and rituals to help improve their chances.

Let’s look at this more closely:

Planetary configurations

"Muhurtha", an essential principle of Vedic astrology, indicates the opportune time to partake in certain activities based on planetary configurations. It also highlights when best to avoid certain activities. So, in the case of gambling, a player would wait for a favourable Muhurtha to maximise their chances of success.

Presence of the planets

Vedic astrology focuses on nine “grahas”, which are collectively referred to as the “navagrahas” (nava meaning nine). They include the sun (Surya), moon (Chandra), Mars (Mangala), Mercury (Budha), Jupiter (Brihaspati), Venus (Shukra), Saturn (Shani), Rahu (north node of the moon), and Ketu (south node of the moon). According to Vedic astrology, the planet Venus offers luxury and Jupiter provides immense wealth. A conjunction of Jupiter and Venus unafflicted with the moon is therefore said to bring good luck and prosperity.

Birth charts

Many Indians strongly believe in analysing their birth chart in every aspect of their life. This comes from Vedic astrology, which argues that the alignment of different celestial bodies at your birth can provide invaluable insights. In the case of betting, it could highlight a person’s gambling and risk-taking tendencies and subsequent strategies they could employ to maximise their chances of winning, translating into profits and success.

Astrology and numerology

Hindus love to rely on their favourite numbers, particularly when it comes to gambling, and generally prefer odd numbers over even. Seven and eight are considered auspicious numbers, representing success and prosperity. Many Hindus also use these numbers at the time of Diwali when, in some houses, gambling is a ritual. Another lucky sequence of numbers in Hinduism is 786, representing the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.