Abu Dhabi - The workers, who earn a monthly salary of around Dh1,500, hit the jackpot after buying the raffle ticket for 18 months.
Twenty-two workers who put Dh25 each to purchase an Abu Dhabi Big Ticket have become Dh681,818 richer after their ticket was picked in the raffle draw on Sunday.
The workers, who earn a monthly salary of around Dh1,500, hit the Dh15 million jackpot after buying the raffle ticket for 18 months.
Big Ticket Abu Dhabi, UAE: Your ultimate guide to participating
Sreenu Sreedharan Nair and his friends live in the UAE and not India as was believed earlier. There was a lot of confusion on Sunday night after the big announcement as calls made to the phone numbers provided on ticket number 098165 drew a blank.
The individuals answering the phone did not know anything about the Big Ticket draw.
Nair, 28, works at a private company in Dubai. "This is unexpected and unbelievable. My friends and I still can't believe we have won. This will take some time to sink in. We all have put Dh25 - two persons' share is extra and gets adjusted with the next series. We have been buying tickets for 18 months now."
Nair is inundated with congratulatory phone calls. Referring to the wild goose chase to find him, he said: "I wasn't aware about the announcement. The ticket was bought using the card of a person who is in Kerala and hence those numbers were kept. He got confused. Thankfully, all is fine now. I came to know about the win when friends came to congratulate me at night."
However, life continues as usual for Nair and his friends.
"We are all workers. We earn in the range of Dh1,500 or so after our overtime. I have been working in Dubai for six years now. I hope to finish the pending construction work of my home. I have a few loans to settle. My sister is married. My parents are keeping well. On a personal note, this jackpot has come at the right time for all of us. Now we are all looking forward to the big day when we will be in Abu Dhabi to receive the cheque next month."
The dramatic chase for millionaires
The draw was held outside the Abu Dhabi International Airport. When Richard, who conducts the draw, rang up on the first number from the ticket, the person replied that he didn't know anyone by the name Sreenu Sreedharan Nair.
"No, this is not Sreenu, but Sanish Kumar. I don't know Sreenu. I don't know Richard. This is the wrong number," Richard was told.
Richard tried the second mobile number and the reply was blunt: "What's your problem? Please call me after half an hour."
Big Ticket organisers went back to their office to find a solution to reach the actual winner.
They burnt the midnight oil and finally got through to the actual winners on Monday. But chasing and tracking winners has become a routine for the team at Big Ticket.
Last month's Dh12 million winner Mohammad Fayaz J.A. could be reached only after the fifth attempt.