"Luckiest man alive" fears to tempt fate
Thu Apr 29 2004
A man who cheated death seven times, had four failed marriages and then won STG600,000 ($A1.47 million) with his first lottery ticket refused to tempt fate to begin a new career on Australian TV.
Frano Selaks - dubbed the luckiest man in the world - refused to fly from his home in Croatia to Australia to film TV commercials for Doritos corn chips.
Instead, an Australian crew flew to Zagreb to film 75-year-old Selaks, known as Lucky to his friends, who has survived seven serious accidents.
"I never had any accidents while travelling on a boat or a ship so I thought about going there that way but it would have taken a month and my wife would not want me to be away for that long," he said.
"I didn't want to risk another accident while I was travelling by air.
"Despite my refusal to travel there they still wanted me as the star.
"They wanted someone who could prove that being a winner wasn't all about luck."
Selaks' first escape came in 1962 when a train travelling from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik jumped the rails and plunged into an icy river.
Seventeen people drowned, but Selaks made it to the riverbank suffering hypothermia, shock, bruises and a broken arm.
A year later, he was thrown out of a DC-8 plane between Zagreb and Rijeka when a door flew open. This time 19 people died but Selaks landed in a haystack and escaped with cuts, bruises and shock.
In 1966, four passengers were killed when a bus in Split lurched into a river. Selaks swam to safety with cuts, bruises and even more shock.
In 1970, his car caught fire and he leapt out seconds before the fuel tank exploded.
Three years later, he lost most of his hair when a fuel pump spewed petrol over his car's engines and blew flames through the air vents.
In 1995, he suffered minor injuries when he was knocked down by a bus in Zagreb.
His last brush with death came in 1996, when he was driving in the mountains and turned a corner to see a UN truck coming straight for him.
His Skoda car crashed through the barrier and over the edge but Selaks jumped out and landed in a tree, only to see his car explode 300 feet below him.
"I was either the world's unluckiest man or the luckiest. I preferred to believe the latter," said Selaks, from Petrinja in central Croatia.
And that proved true last year when he won STG600,000 with the first lottery ticket he bought in his life.
He said having a fifth wife 20 years his junior and becoming an actor at 75 are a couple more pieces of good luck.