Meet the man who picks the lottery millionaires in UAE every month
Abu Dhabi - Like everybody else, he also wishes to win the lottery someday.
On the 3rd of every month, millions of people across the world wait to hear from an Englishman in Abu Dhabi. His one call can change people's lives forever.
Meet Richard, who conducts the Big Ticket Raffle millionaire at the Abu Dhabi International airport. He is the first one to call the winner, breaking the biggest good news they could ever imagine - "You have won the Big Ticket raffle! You are a millionaire now!"
"I love my job. The best part of my job is that I really feel that one of those tickets in the palm of my hand can change someone's life," Richard, who is in his 40s, told Khaleej Times.
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He said he has been making millionaires or telling millionaires that they are one since about 2006. "That is quite a long time. Initially, I haven't been doing it every single month. But for many years now, I do the bigger and bigger prices. The latest I did on January 3, 2019 is draw no 199."
But how did he end up in this job? "It just evolved," said Richard who came to Dubai in 1999 and worked as a store manager at a department store chain.
"In 2005, I joined Abu Dhabi Duty Free and I worked as a Retail Manager. But once a month, I conduct the draw, which is my favourite part of the job."
Richard, who lives alone in Dubai, says even after almost 12 years, he "still gets the nerves" on the day of the raffle draw.
"I really feel the responsibility. Even days before, I start thinking about it while I'm in the gym or doing something else that someone is going to be a millionaire. And I imagine their feeling when they get my call. That is amazing."
Anyone who watches Richard in action at the Arrival lobby of Terminal 1 at the Abu Dhabi International Airport would concede it is not an easy job to pick raffles.
Dressed in a flashy red ensemble and wielding his jewel-decked 'Boombastic' stick, Richard runs a two-hour show with a small eager crowd around him. Like a professional actor, he moves around and talks animatedly to the crowd, building the excitement as a total of ten raffles are picked beginning with the lowest prize of Dh10,000 to the final big raffle.
For each draw, Richard spins the raffle barrel and scoops a few tickets in his palm and lets one of the audience pick the winning ticket. He opens the ticket and declares the winner. The details are uploaded on the Big Ticket's official website in real time.
"You can see how I am sweating. I really work hard," said Richard, who added that one thing he cannot get over is the excitement of the monthly winners when he calls them.
Richard says one thing he cannot get over is the excitement of the monthly winners when he calls them. "It is incredible. Some people don't believe me. Some fall off their chair. A year ago, I remember someone who stood around here in the audience won Dh80,000, and we saw the instant reaction. That was priceless."
"I also remember someone who lost his job the previous month and he had bought the ticket and won Dh80,000. It is amazing, the stories about the winners and how it has changed their lives."
Richard says the opportunity to meet the millionaire of the previous month for the current month's draw is also very special. "They are the happiest people you can meet. It is a privilege I get."
When asked whether he has ever won a lottery, Richard says, "I haven't. I cannot participate in the Big Ticket draw. But I do get hoax calls from bad pranksters saying I have won loads of money in a draw that I haven't taken part in. I immediately know that is a fake call."
But like everyone else, Richard also wishes to win a lottery someday.
"Isn't it everybody's dream to win a lottery? I am no different."