Dubai: 20 Indian expats, earning Dh1,000 salary, hit Dh20-million prize

These young expats, who refer to themselves as 'small-town boys', still can't believe that they finally won the Big Ticket jackpot


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Wed 5 Oct 2022, 12:07 PM

Last updated: Wed 5 Oct 2022, 2:10 PM

This group of 20 Indian expats, who work at a car company in Dubai for a Dh1,000 salary, has been buying raffle tickets regularly. They never won — until they tried to do things differently with their Big Ticket entry in September.

First, they chose to purchase a ticket in the name of a newcomer amongst them. Then, instead of buying a ticket at the end of the month – a factor that many believe increases the probability of winning and tried several times by this bunch — they bought it in the first half of the month, on September 13, presumed to be an unlucky number.

And on the draw date of October 3, at just over 8pm, lady luck smiled on them.

Pradeep KP, a 24-year-old from the south Indian state of Kerala, was working on night duty when the ticket with his name was drawn, winning the group the Dh20-million prize.

“We have a group head, who decided to buy a ticket in my name as I was a newcomer. I guess it was beginner’s luck that we won with a ticket in my name," Pradeep shared after finishing his night duty.

"We were mostly buying at the end of the month, but this time, we chose to purchase it earlier. September 13 was a coincidence. We didn’t think much about 13 as bad luck. The changes worked for us.”

Even after 24 hours since the life-changing call, Pradeep and his friends still couldn't believe how small-town boys like them had become instant millionaires.

Most of the 20-member group are in their 20s, barring a few who are in their 30s. Majority of them are from middle-class families in Kerala, a few from Tamil Nadu, and one person is from Karnataka.

Sharing how he came to Dubai, Pradeep said: “I am from the Pathanamthitta district. Back home, I have my parents, sister and brother-in-law and their child. I was working as a driver there, but my father didn’t like that job as I have a technical background and he wanted me to pursue a career in a similar field. I found this job in Dubai as a helper for an automatic gear system at a car company."

It has been just seven months since he landed in the emirate. "Some of my seniors have been working here. They had been buying Big Ticket for a while now,” Pradeep said.

Got lucky with No. 13

Everyone in the group came from humble backgrounds — all trying to improve the lives of their families back home.

"Most of us have debts to settle and need to fund the education and marriage of our kin, build our own home, look after our ageing parents and so on. All are living in hope of a better tomorrow,” Pradeep said.

They earn an average salary of Dh1,000. Every month, each person from the 20-member group would contribute Dh25 to buy a Dh500 Big Ticket number, including this winning one.

“My basic salary is Dh600, food allowance is Dh300, overtime and bonus. We have yearly increments. Most of us have an average salary of Dh1,000. We all pitch in Dh25 monthly to try our luck,” the expat said.

Recollecting the moments when he answered the call from Big Ticket show host Richard, Pradeep said: “I was on night duty when the phone rang. I didn’t attend to it as I was working. But when it rang a second time, I thought it could be something urgent. Though I had seen the Big Ticket show before, I wasn’t aware of the draw date or its timing. I was also not familiar with Richard’s voice.

"When he said: ‘Congratulations, you have won Dh20 million’, it was an unbelievable moment. I thanked him and said I was at work. Soon, the word spread among our group. All are still in disbelief.”

Pradeep has decided to stay put in the UAE, a land where nothing is impossible, and use the money to first improve the lives of his family members.

“We will be buying tickets for the next draw of Dh25 million. We will now have more people join our group. There are many who haven’t won. Hopefully, now, it’s their time.”


More news from UAE