Anoop with his wife Maya after they had won the lottery. Image Credit: ANI

Thiruvananthapuram: Five days ago, the family of B. Anoop, an autorickshaw driver from Sreevaraham in the capital city exploded in joy when news broke of his winning Kerala’s Onam Bumper lottery, which came with the state’s highest-ever cash prize of Rs250 million.

Less than a week later, the 32-year-old’s family is going through miserable times as throngs of people are queueing up outside their modest house, seeking financial assistance for countless reasons.

Anoop’s wife Maya said: “It’s like we have lost our peace though we have earned money”, reacting to the scores of people lining up for financial aid from the lottery-winning family.

Anoop had purchased the winning ticket with the No TJ 750605 for Rs500, after breaking his 2-year-old son Adwait’s piggy bank because he was short for Rs50, adding to the incredible nature of his win. As it turned out, the ticket won the top prize of Rs250 million from among 6,655,914 tickets that were sold.

Even before the stunning win has sunk in, Anoop and family are now finding it difficult to fend off people who are approaching them for aid.

“On one side there are banks and such other institutions, on the other there are people who say they are in dire financial positions. There are people coming even from Tamil Nadu, from as a far as Chennai. And of course, local residents are also approaching us,” Maya told local media persons.

“Some are saying that if we give them Rs20 or 30 million they will make us partners in film production and also give us roles in their movies”, Maya said, pointing to the sheer sweep of requests that the family is getting.

“Their tone is one of demand, not of request. People are saying ‘you must give Rs2.5 million or Rs3 million’”, she said. Family members said there were even cases of people who were well off asking for help, like a family with children being doctors asking for financial aid.

Lost peace of mind

Maya says her husband is not even able to enter their house for fear of being swarmed by aid-seekers. “These same people who want to take money from us will in all likelihood say later that the lottery winner splurged all his money,” says Maya who is pregnant with her second child.

“I have lost all peace of mind and I can’t even reside in my own home as I am besieged with people who come calling to ask me to sort out various needs of theirs as I have won the first prize. I now keep changing where I stay as I have lost all peace of mind that I enjoyed till I won the prize,” he said.

“Now I really wish, I should not have won it. I, like most people, really enjoyed me winning for a day or two with all the publicity. But now this has become a menace and I can’t even go outside where I stay. People are after me seeking help from me,” he added.

He is using his social media account to tell people that he is yet to get the money.

“I have not decided what to do with the money and at the moment, I will put the entire money in the bank for two years . Now I really wish I should not have this, instead of this, may be a lesser amount of prize money would have been better,” Anoop added.

Anoop rues that now the stage has come where many who were known to him who will become enemies.

“My neighbours are angry as many people who come looking for me hang around in the neighbourhood. Even when wearing a mask, people crowd around me knowing I am the winner. All my peace of mind has disappeared,” said a peeved Anoop.

Anoop had purchased the ticket last Saturday, barely able to raise the Rs500 for the ticket, utilising Rs50 from his son’s piggy bank, and on Sunday he was astounded to know from television news that his ticket number had hit the jackpot.

After deducting the agency commission of 10 per cent and the 30 per cent tax on the winnings, Anoop gets to keep Rs 157.50 million.

After his father who was a farm labourer passed away, Anoop has been driving an autorickshaw for a living. To pay up his debts, Anoop was getting ready to go to Malaysia to work as a chef, with a Rs200,000 loan from a local cooperative bank.

“I’m not going to go abroad now”, Anoop said, adding, “Nor am I going to stop buying lottery tickets”.