The Bizarre and Unbelievable Story of Frane Selak: The World’s Un/Luckiest Man

Life has its shares of ups and downs. One day you’re having a picnic on a sunny day with family, the next it’s a gloomy Monday and your boss is giving you the third degree over something you weren’t even involved in. This is life– for most of us, anyway.

For others, it’s an entirely different story. Sometimes the ups and downs are taken to an extreme. Sometimes your life is so extraordinary you have an internet video made about it, and you’re deemed The Un/Luckiest Man on earth.

Such is the case of Frane Selak.

Meet The Incredible Frane Selak

For those not familiar with Selak’s story, it’s one for the history books. Selak’s life has oscillated from narrowly avoiding death numerous times to winning the lottery. A Croatian music teacher born in 1929, Selak looks like he could be your friendly grandfather or elderly next door neighbour, yet his life is full of so many incredible ups and downs it is frankly mind-blowing.

Although not independently verified, Selak’s supposed “deathcapades” really run the gamut. Many of them revolve around transportation. Every form of it, from plane to train to automobile, seems out to get poor Frank. Here are some of the bizarre and terrible things commuter transport did to him:

1962: A train he’s riding slides off the rails and into a river, and Selak was pulled to safety while 17 others drowned. He escaped with a broken arm and mild case of hypothermia.

1963: Frank is blown out of an airplane because of a malfunctioning door and lands, miraculously, in a haystack. The plane crashes and kills 19 other people.

1966: A bus he’s riding swerves off the road and slides into a river. He escapes with only a few cuts and bruises while four others drown.

1995: Frank is hit by a bus and incredibly suffers no injuries.

Avoiding public transportation didn’t help anything. Here are some of the mishaps Selak endured at the mercy of his own automobiles:

1970: Selak’s car catches fire while he’s driving. He escapes before the fuel tank explodes.

1973: His car’s engine is doused with hot oil from a broken fuel pump and fire shoots through the air vents. Selak’s hair is singed, but he’s ok.

1996: Narrowly avoids a head-on collision from a United Nations truck by swerving his car into a guard rail. Jumps from the vehicle, safely grabbing ahold of a tree before his car plummets 300 feet into a gorge and explodes.

Some of his other brushes with death get really weird and personal. Supposedly, Selak was teaching his son to use a gun in 1968, but the safety was off and Selak accidentally shot himself in one of his testicles, which had to be removed.

In 2003, however, the man finally got a break. Just after his 73rd birthday, he won about one million dollars (or €600,000) in the lottery. He married for the fifth time around and went on to purchase two homes and a boat.

But in 2010 he decided to give most of the money to family and friends while he lived a frugal life. He even sold his private island home and used the last of his money on a hip replacement and a shrine to the Virgin Mary to give thanks for his luck, declaring “money cannot buy happiness.”

And the man who has every reason to not be here today would know a thing or two about happiness.

In the end, he told the Telegraph, “All I need at my age is my [wife] Katarina. Money would not change anything. When she arrived I knew then that I really did have a charmed, blessed life. 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.”

What We Can Learn From The Un/Luckiest Man

As unbelievable as the man’s life sounds, it does get one thinking. The story encapsulates the transient nature of life, the strange hand life often deals individuals, the nebulous concept of luck and what really leads to happiness.

For starters, the transient nature of life has never been more apparent than in Selak’s story. He’s the poster boy for the ups and downs life can take. Literally. One minute you’re in an airplane, the next you’re on a haystack on the ground. One year your car is shooting flames at you, another year you’re winning the lottery.

Maybe from Selak’s story we can all learn to take life’s rollercoaster, our own strange fate, in stride. After all, you never know what the next year may bring. Taking that approach, problems are just temporary challenges, disasters pass away and good luck may yet just be around the corner.

One of the most interesting aspects of this tale is the concept of what makes a person lucky and what makes them happy. You could argue that surviving all of that without so much as a scratch makes a person extraordinarily lucky. But Selak doesn’t see it that way. He considers the accidents to be misfortunes. He even treated his lottery winnings as a temporary pleasure, and then asserted that what really makes a person blessed, lucky and happy is quality relationships. Certainly not money. Perhaps in addition to being The Un/Luckiest Man, Selak may also the wisest.

About The Author

This is a post by contributing author Michelle Loverine Honeyager. Catch up with her musings on personal development and spirituality at