UAE: How a group of 30 friends, strangers hit the Dh20-million jackpot

The group has been religiously buying Big Ticket coupons on a monthly basis

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Tue 2 Jan 2024, 6:29 PM

Last updated: Wed 3 Jan 2024, 8:12 AM

Munavar Fairoos is the admin of a Whatsapp group which includes roughly 40 people — some of whom he has never even met. Every month, the group has been religiously buying Big Ticket coupons. Earlier this week, they hit the jackpot by winning Dh20 million.

“I am still in disbelief,” said Munavar, who works in Al Ain as a driver, speaking to Khaleej Times. “I haven’t even checked how many zeroes are in Dh20 million. And as of now, I have no idea what I am going to do with the money. However, I am very happy. Most of the people who are in the group have very limited wages, often contributing amounts like Dh10 or 20 towards the ticket. For all of us, it is going to be life changing.”

The ticket, which was shared by 30 people, was drawn on December 31. The first time the company called Munavar, he didn’t pick up. “I had been getting a lot of spam calls so when I saw a number I did not recognize, I didn’t answer,” he said. “The second time they called, I answered, and I was told that I won the prize. I recognised their voices from watching the announcements so many times, otherwise I wouldn’t have believed it. They didn’t mention the amount or what prize I had won, so I assumed it was the weekly win.”

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The Big Ticket weekly draw rewards Dh1 million to winners.

The big win

Once he disconnected the call, Munavar wanted to cross check the win. “I did not have data to check the website, so I called my friend Faisal who is also an admin of the Whatsapp group,” he said. “I asked him to check the website for the details. He called me back within 5 minutes and told me that we had won Dh20 million. Both of us were silent for a few seconds. That was when the enormity of the win hit us.”

He then began calling the remaining ticket holders to inform them of the wonderful new year gift. “Most of them refused to believe me,” chuckled Munavar. “They kept saying that I was pranking them. It was funny how we had been looking forward to this day for so long but when it happened, we were having a hard time believing it.”

According to Munavar, this month the group got four tickets. “We bought two tickets for Dh1,000,” he said. “Usually, we get one free ticket when you buy two but this time, we got two free tickets. So we had our luck going for us right from the get-go.”

Organized process

It was in 2019 that Munavar bought his first ticket. “At the time, five of us put in Dh100 and bought one ticket,” he said. “Since then, I have bought a ticket almost every month. But Dh100 is a lot to put in every month regularly, so I hit upon the idea of roping in several people who would contribute smaller amounts of money.”

When friends of friends, colleagues and others started showing interest in the idea, Munavar formed the Whatsapp group. He is in charge of collecting money, buying the ticket, posting it on the group and following the winner announcements.

The group has 40 people, some of whom don’t even live in the UAE. “There are some people who retired from the UAE and live in India,” he said. “But they still continue to participate and send me money every month. Not everyone participates every month because of their financial constraints. Similarly, this month, ten of them from the group did not contribute. They are bitterly disappointed, but it is what it is.”

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