Dubai: Vilas Rikkala, winner of the Dh15 million Big Ticket raffle on Saturday night (August 3) in Abu Dhabi, is a farmer in India who left the UAE 45 days ago at the end of his failed effort to hunt for a job here.
On Saturday, Rikkala could not contain his great joy minutes after being told that he won the huge prize money — equivalent to Rs284,332,500 ($4.08 million).
When Gulf News contacted him in the city of Hyderabad, India, Rikkala said both he and his wife do back-breaking farm jobs in India.
Their annual earnings from tilling ricefields amount to about Rs300,000 (Dh15,000 or about $4,306).
Speaking exclusively to Gulf News, Rikkala said he previously lived in Dubai and worked as a driver. Rikkala said he has been coming on visit to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Rikkala lives in Jakranpalli village, Nizamabad district, about 175 km from the city of Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana and Andra Pradesh.
He has two daughters — Manaswini, studying 8th standard, and Himani, living in a hostel in Intermediate first year.
Bought ticket with wife's money
"I left Dubai 45 days go, and went home for good," he told Gulf News. The father-of-two said he he has been buying raffle tickets in the UAE for two years, including the Dubai Shopping Festival raffle tickets while he worked in the UAE.
At home, he was idling away his time and he did not have money to buy the ticket this time. But he wanted to buy anyway. So he expressed his desire to his wife who is now the sole bread winner.
“My wife, Padma, is the reason for the celebration. I had no money when I returned home. But I had this desire to buy the raffle tickets. So I took Rs20,000 from my wife’s savings and the fortune smiled on me.”
He gave the money to his friend Ravi, who works in Abu Dhabi, to buy three tickets (two tickets, plus one free) under Rikkala's name.
And this time, he won it big.
“My wife, Padma, is the reason for the celebration."
Bumper prize money
Rikkala said he did not expect to win.
Would he come to the UAE with his family to collect the prize money? He said he would not bring them now.
“I will definitely bring my family and all my relatives to the UAE after I get the prize money.
Let me make enjoyment
At one point, he said: “Please brother, call me tomorrow ... let me make enjoyment with my family."
“Please brother, call me tomorrow ... let me make enjoyment with my family."
So what will he do with this bumper prize money?
"For now, I want to enjoy this moment with my family. It’s a great thought," said Rikkala. He is expected next month in Abu Dhabi to draw the next Big Ticket winner.
When asked if he will return to the UAE for work, he said: "Not for now. I have to plan for my future and that of my family. Plus, I have to manage my farms where I grow rice.“
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