Monday, April 7, 2014

Two in a million

(Interviewed two dollar millionaires about how life changed for them overnight- -
How would you react if $1 million were legally transferred to your bank account as a prize and you became an overnight dollar millionaire?
“Life has not changed a bit,” says 36-year-old Indian national Salil Sethunath, who hit such a jackpot in June last year after winning Dubai Duty Free’s (DDF) Millennium Millionaire draw.
Shant Boghosian, 35, a Syrian national from Sharjah, on whom too similar Lady Luck smiled in December 2011, suggests that everyone should have a gambler’s heart and not regret spending Dhs1,000 or Dhs2,000 monthly on lottery tickets. “One million is not enough… and I am still ‘investing’ my money in Dubai Duty Free draws.”
A casual look at 36-year-old Salil Sethunath will make anyone think that he is just another one in the crowd. Clad in a simple black T-shirt and jeans, he flashes a ready smile and talks a common man’s language.
“People will never believe such things happen, until it actually happens,” says the father of two, who did his engineering degree in India and MBA in the Netherlands and works for a private company in the capital that makes grass yarns.
When DDF officials initially dialled Salil to pass the good news, he thought it was a bogus call. “I disconnected the line. The third time a woman official called and asked me whether I had indeed bought a DDF ticket. I replied yes. She asked for the number, but I did not know where I had kept the ticket. I had to run to my office and retrieve it from my drawer,” he says.
Salil’s friends always believed he was a lucky guy. His colleagues once prodded him to buy a ticket on their behalf, but it was touch and go as the prize was missed by only two numbers. “It was then that I decided to try my own luck and I won.”
The DDF officials sent him a mail notifying his win, but it landed in the junk box. “I was curious after the phone call and retrieved their letter from my junk mail,” laughs Salil. His wife, who works for Etihad Airways in the capital, refused to believe the news and suspected the calls as prank. Nevertheless, it all turned out to be a dream story for the couple.
Salil believes that one should not think too far, but live in the moment. “Most definitely people should try their luck as these kind of promotions in the UAE are very genuine. It is amazing. I have seen it myself as I was invited to the airport. I take tickets now also,” he says.
But luck or no luck, there is no alternative to hard work, according to Salil. He works for the same company for the past 10 years and insists that he has no intention to leave as he enjoys his work. “My boss, a German national, is a brotherly person who has taught me the values of humility. We have been working together for a decade.”
The millionaire is all praise for the UAE. “This is the best country in the world. Everything one wants is here. Also, the lifestyle here is so addictive,” he says, adding in a lighter vein, “They have also created all avenues to spend. I love it.”
On charity, he says he helps quite a few people but does not want to talk about it. “I was helping people before and I continue to do the same, wherever I feel there is a genuine need.”
Has big money spoilt his kids? “They are too young, at 4 and 6, to understand. All they asked for was a Lego toy, which I purchased happily.”
The “lucky man” that he calls himself did not splash the money. He says he has invested in real estate in India, kept some cash for “a rainy day,” and has made a substantial investment in UAE stocks.
Unlike the conventional approach of Salil, the other winner, Shant Boghosian, is a person who looks at gambling or taking risks as a project or investment.
“I guess I always was a bit of a player gambling and since 2000, every month I invested Dhs1,000 to Dhs2,000 in this ‘project’, as I consider this as a ‘project’ and not ‘luck’,” he points out.
How was life before and after winning the DDF million? “Well, life before was hard and after winning the DDF million, it became harder,” he laughs.
Shant, who was running a personal business before winning the DDF million and still runs the same in the UAE, says the most interesting part after winning the prize is that he is now gambling more in casinos abroad.
Did he take up charity work in a big way after the win? “Yes I did, but I count that one million is not enough, so please I want to win once more to pay my liabilities.”
Shant’s advice to people who are in two minds about their luck is, “Have a gambler’s heart and do not regret to spend monthly Dhs1,000 or Dhs2,000 on lottery tickets.”
He discloses that his one principle in life is “to have 1 dirham in the pocket instead of Dhs1,000,000 in the sky.”
Do nagging relatives or friends bother him after his victory?
“I told my nagging relatives, that I am investing monthly in this lottery since 2000, so if any one of you spent just Dhs1,000 in these 10 years for this lottery, I am ready to gift my million dollars.”
The millionaire sums up, “One million is not enough...and I am still investing my money with you, my lovely Dubai Duty Free.”
Launched in 1989, the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Promotion to win a luxury car is the longest running duty-free promotion in the world. With tickets on sale for $139 and limited to 1,300 coupons, the ticket holders have a chance to win a luxury car: a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Porsche and Audi.
To complement the Finest Surprise to win a car, the motorbike promotion was introduced in 2002. 
The ticket is lower and priced at $28 so it gave everyone a chance to enter and win. The Finest Surprise was added in 1999 – the Millennium Millionaire – which offers a one-in-5,000 chance to win $1 million. This promotion has already created over 150 dollar millionaires where two winners have won twice! “