A Dubai-based Indian driver has hit a jackpot by winning 12 million dirhams (approx. Rs 21 cr) in a raffle in Abu Dhabi.
John Varughese, who hails from Kerala, has been working as a driver for a private company since he came to Dubai in 2016. He won the amount at the Big Ticket raffle held at the Abu Dhabi International Airport on Tuesday, the Khaleej Times reported.
Varughese said he initially thought it was a late April Fool's Day prank by a friend. "I couldn't believe that I could get lucky. April Fool's Day had just passed by and I thought it was some friend pulling my leg. I also had doubts if this was a fake call as you read about lot of scams happening," he told the daily.
"Even though it was confirmed but I still took a while before calling my family back in Kerala. This is surreal and the new feeling of being a winner is slowly sinking in," said the new multi-millionaire.
Varughese said he will share the prize money with four of his friends as they had pooled in money to buy the ticket. He also intends to switch from a basic phone to a smartphone.
"I have a small family with wife and two children. I will now invest in their future. There is no better way to make use of this money than to invest in education," he said.
"I am here (in Dubai) after facing lot of hardships. I will set aside a portion to help the needy too as I shouldn't forget my past days," Varughese added.
According to data from two of the biggest raffle draws in the UAE (Abu Dhabi's Big Ticket raffle to Dubai Duty Free's Millionaire Draw), Indian nationals prove to be most lucky, the daily reported on Saturday.
Of the 312 first prize winners for the Big Ticket since it began in 1992, Indian nationals scooped 80 per cent of the total winnings. And of the 264 winners of the $1 million dirhams at Dubai Duty Free since 1999, Indian winners accounted for 125 of the total number.
In January, an Indian expatriate also became a multi-millionaire after winning 12 million dirhams in the biggest-ever raffle prize money in Abu Dhabi.
Some days ago, another person called John Varughese, who hails from Puthupally in Kottayam, was mistaken to be the winner by many. He had to ultimately put up a Facebook post clarifying that he was not the winner of the raffle after he was inundated with calls congratulating him and also those seeking help.
(With IANS inputs)