“It is unbelievable. I feel blessed and happy."
An Indian man won $1 million (£730,000) in a raffle draw contest in the United Arab Emirates.
It was a turn of fortune for 30-year-old Navaneeth Sajeevan as he had lost his job due to the pandemic in November 2020.
It was reported that Navaneeth won the cash prize in the Dubai Duty-Free Millennium Millionaire Draw held on December 20, 2020.
Navaneeth had bought the ticket online on November 22. He has been living in Abu Dhabi since 2016.
The Indian man is originally from Kasargod, Kerala, but worked for a company based in Abu Dhabi.
He had been serving his notice period after being laid off as part of cost measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Navaneeth explained that he had just been to a job interview when he received a call from the DDF, informing him of his million-dollar win.
“I just came from a job interview and to receive this call from Dubai Duty-Free is totally unbelievable.”
He said that his wife was working in Dubai and he was planning to return to his home in Kerala if he did not find a good job soon.
Navaneeth said that December 28 was his last official working day at the company he was made redundant at.
Following his win, Navaneeth said that he will share the money equally with four of his friends, leaving him with $200,000 (£145,000).
He said: “It is unbelievable. I feel blessed and happy. I am sharing the prize with four other colleagues and friends.
“Still, I take home $200,000, which is a big amount.”
Navaneeth said that he will use the money to repay his loans, which is approximately AED 100,000 (£20,000). The rest of the money will go into his savings account.
He said: “Usually, I always buy the Abu Dhabi Big Ticket. I have been buying those tickets for three years.
“This time, I saved up for two months and purchased the Dubai Duty-Free ticket for the first time.”
Navaneeth lives with his wife and their one-year-old child.
After his win in the raffle, Navaneeth is the 171st Indian national to win the DDF mega prize.
Indian nationals make up the highest number of DDF Millennium Millionaire ticket buyers.
The raffle draw has been around since 1999 and December 20, 2020, marked its anniversary.
To mark the anniversary, the million-dollar cash prize was awarded to another person as well. UAE national Abdalla Alteneiji was the other winner.