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Clockwise from top left (second frame onwards): Dilshad Ahmed, Karanjeet Nagra, Manish Kumar, Noushad, Renjith Somarajan, Wahid Zaman and Mohammad Mostafa Sohraby. Image Credit:

Dubai: It is not every day that you win a jackpot. That too Dh20 million!

So when these men won the mega Big Ticket jackpot on July 3, happiness knew no bounds for them. They were all yet to come to terms with their win and they all said that winning Dh20 million was a life-saver, a game changer.

Some of the winners also said that they were overwhelmed by the kind of attention they received following their jackpot win.

The raffle ticket was in the name of Renjith Somarajan, an Indian expatriate working at a hotel in Dubai. Earlier, Somarajan and his colleagues had set up a Big Ticket WhatsApp group and they started participating in the Big Ticket raffle draw every month. It was an all-expat group comprising people from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Iran. Currently, all are living in Dubai.

Contributing Dh100 each

Six of the team members are valet parking assistants, one is a driver, one works at the hotel’s laundry services, while the other two are security guards, earning around Dh1,300 a month each. The group bought two tickets for Dh1,000 under the ‘buy-two-get-one-free’ promotion. So the ten people paid Dh100 each.

It was not a small amount for some of them, but they still did it.

And their faith paid off!

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They each won Dh2 million — something beyond their imagination. Gulf News caught up with the winners to see how their lives changed.

Somarajan, who hails from Kollam in Kerala plans to buy land for his sisters. He will also save money for his child’s education and build a house for his family. Bangladeshi Bul Bul Ahmed, 38, said that the money will go towards funding his children’s (aged seven and five years) education. “I will also donate to my society that is collecting funds to build mosques in Bangladesh. Not just that, I will also help some orphans. I know how one has to struggle if he or she doesn’t have enough money. So, I will try to help as many people as I can,” said Ahmed who works as security guard at the hotel.

‘Wife still in disbelief’

“This was the first time I purchased a Big Ticket and I took part because of my friend. Renjith convinced me and after giving him the money for the ticket, I thought that I had wasted it because I never believed in ‘luck’. During the Big Ticket Live draw, I was on duty. I opened our WhatsApp group chat after I realised that I was suddenly receiving a lot of notifications. Then I saw that Renjith had announced that we had won Dh20 million. My first reaction was that it was a joke. So I checked online and found out that we had indeed won. I immediately called my wife back home to tell her about the news. But until now she doesn’t believe me!”

Nepali valet parking assistant Uttam Kumar Dahal, 31, has made plans too, after the win. He said he would buy a piece of land for his two younger brothers in Kathmandu. “I know that they will never be able to do it on their own in their lifetime. So this will be a big one for them.”

‘A dream come true’

Dahal will also build a house for his parents. Dahal, who has been living in Dubai since 2015, said he had been participating in the Big Ticket since 2017.

“All this while, I have been working in the sun, sweating it out during the summer. Winning the Big Ticket will change my life. Even if I had worked for another 20 years in Dubai, I would not have been able to save Dh2 million. This is a dream come true.”

Iranian expatriate Mohammad Mostafa Sohraby, a laundry assistant, said he was grateful for his Dh2 million win. Sohraby, who has three children, will save the prize money for their education. “But I want to help the poor, too. This is a gift for me from Allah. I will use it wisely to help the needy.”

Sohraby had recently joined the same hotel as Somarajan, but did not know him personally. His friend Manish Kumar told him to join the WhatsApp group since they needed one more person to buy the raffle ticket.

Today, his life has taken a 180-degree turn.

He told Gulf News that when the Big Ticket Live draw was held, he had no idea under which name the ticket was registered. So, initially, he was clueless that he had won. Later, his friend Manish called him to break the news. “I was overjoyed,” Sohraby said.

Time to get married

Indian expatriate Manish Kumar, from the state of Haryana, wants to get married, now that he has won a jackpot. “I was putting away the thought of marriage as I already had so many things to do for my family. Now that I have won, I will consider getting married,” he said. Manish also has plans to build a house for himself. “It will be a bungalow,” he added.

Manish, 31, who lives in Dubai with his friends, has worked as a valet parking assistant for the past four years. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, his salary was reduced and he had to stop working towards the end of the year. While speaking to the Big Ticket representative, he said: “I was elated after winning. And now that we’ve won, I’ll be able to start a family and even build a house for my parents and myself.”

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The Big Ticket draw in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Supplied

‘It is a blessing’

Karanjeet Nagra, an expatriate from the Indian state of Punjab, has a loan to repay. The 26-year old said his first priority will be to repay the loan that his father had taken. Nagra, aged 26, came to Dubai three years ago and started working after a year of scouting for a job. Shortly after the Big Ticket Grand Prize winner was announced, he received a call from Somarajan, informing him about the win. Speaking to the Big Ticket representative, he said: “I am so happy to be a millionaire at my age. It is a blessing and I am extremely happy.”

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Nepali valet attendant Rabindra Ramabhat is also grateful for his win. Immediately after the windfall, he resigned from his job and headed home to be with his family. A month on, Ramabhat said he would continue to live in Dubai, but would ensure that the money earned in the jackpot win would be spent wisely. Dilshad Ahmed Sardar Ahmad from Uttar Pradesh in India said he planned to start a men’s salon in Dubai with his prize money. “I am certain that my family’s life will never be the same again after this win,” he said.

Pakistani expatriate Wahid Zaman, 25, is planning to buy a car or a minibus and to give it out on rent. He also wants to build a bigger house for his family in his hometown of Peshawar.