Om Prakash Mongar had not thought about winning when he bought two Nu 50 lotteries in Trongsa last month.
The Meto transport bus driver had asked a hotel owner to give him two lotteries against the commission for stopping his bus in the hotel for breakfast on the way to Thimphu.
On June 3, the driver’s life changed when the Royal Bhutan Lottery Limited (RBLL) announced the results. He had won Nu 1 million (M), Phuensum Dharim’s first prize.
“It was the first time that I had stopped in Trongsa,” Om Prakash Mongar, who is from Sarpang said.
Usually, the driver stopped the passenger bus in Tshangkha for breakfast.
The 34-year-old said he would build a house in his ancestral land in Sarpang with the prize money. Until today, he did not have a house to call his own.
“I come from a humble family and I am the only son in the family,” he said, adding that he also comes from a broken family. “My parents divorced when I was very young.”
Phuensum Dharim is the first scheme RBLL launched in November 2016. Bumper schemes, where the first prize is a kilogram of gold was also launched coinciding with national events. During the National Day last year, there were 1,129 winners and on Losar this year, 1,027 prizes were awarded.
Through these two schemes, the lottery office has awarded about Nu 16M in November and December 2016. Between January and May this year, RBLL has released Nu 22M as prize money. Draws are held every month and about 60-70 percent of the tickets are sold. Starting April this year, 2,223 people can win prizes from Nu 1M – Nu 100.
Buying lotteries have also changed the life of Pema Singye, a 24-year-old welder in an automobile workshop at Olakha in Thimphu.
“I cleared all the loans I had taken to construct a house in my village,” he said.
Pema Singye started working in the workshop when he was just 14. He had helped his parents construct a house in Dagapela in Dagana. “For the first time in my life, I have bank balance,” the father of a five-year-old said.
Pema Singye said he finished Nu 400,000 in loan repayment. He said he would use the remaining Nu 600,000 in his child’s education and buying a personal car.
Another lottery winner Bal Bahadur Rai, who is a bus driver at Damphu Central School in Tsirang, has invested his prize money in buying a tipper truck. The driver had won second prize worth Nu 1M during the National Day Bumper Scheme in December 2016.
“For a small-salaried man like me, it came as a surprise,” he said, adding that he had never seen Nu 1M in his life. “Winning the lottery is the best thing that ever happened in my entire life.”
The 43-year-old also shared that he had bought winning lottery ticket just a day ahead of the result.
Among the winners, Bir Maya Jogi, 55, a farmer from Dangrebu in Tsirang is still a regular lottery buyer.
“I buy every month,” she said, adding that she spends a few hundred every month on lottery tickets.
She won Nu 500,000, the second prize. Bir Maya Jogi said that she paid the entire amount to the bank as loan repayment. Her family had taken a loan to construct a house.
In her village, Bir Maya Jogi raises cattle and goats and cultivates maize and cardamom.
Marketing manager with RBLL, Karma Choden said people with humble family backgrounds won most of the prize money.
“There are nine regional agents across the country,” she said.
Further, there are 192 sub-agents that sell lottery across the country. Many school dropouts and unemployed youth are employed in selling lotteries. The regional agents pay them in commission.
Meanwhile, Om Prakash Mongar believes that the lottery win was a gift from his mother, who had expired two weeks ago before he got the two lotteries.
When Kuensel met him, he had already withdrawn Nu 20,000, which he said was to be contributed to Zangtogpelri lhakhang in Phuentsholing. “I will spend the rest to construct my home.”
Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing