Dubai: Four digits that he didn’t even want ended up landing Pinto Paul Thommana with a $1 million jackpot at the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire Draw on Tuesday morning.
When the 36-year-old from Kerala, India, and his friend, Francis Sebastian, pitched in to buy the number 2465, it was not their first choice.
Thommana said: “The ticket we first selected couldn’t be purchased because of an error online, and on our second try, we got this one.”
Sebastian, whom Pinto calls his “brother”, shared in the cost of the winning ticket. The two friends have known each other since the eighth grade, and were neighbours in Kerala, India.
Thommana initially thought the call informing him of the news was a prank. He said: “I thought it was one of my friends calling me, as a joke.”
However, it was only when other people started calling and messaging him, after seeing the news online, that he realised it might be true.
Thommana said his family was struggling financially and this incredible surprise would greatly change their lifestyle.
He told Gulf News he has no specific plans yet, but knows that a part of the money would be invested in his children’s education. He has two children, four and two years old, with another baby on the way.
He said: “I would definitely use it for their schooling. I will do the maximum for that.”
Sebastian, a 35-year-old showroom salesman, works for an automotive company and is also based in Sharjah.
He told Gulf News: “I have known Pinto for a long time, we are childhood friends from school. I have participated in this raffle five times before this with other people, but, this is the first time Pinto and I tried our luck together and we hit the jackpot!”
Sebastian’s wife Leone Francis is celebrating her birthday today.
Sebastian said: “It is a double celebration for us. There is so much excitement, my family still can’t believe this and my friends are constantly congratulating me.”
He does not have any immediate plans for the money but said: “I’ve always wanted to settle with my parents, I plan to continue at my current job and plan to bring my parents to Dubai for some time, at least.”