Lottery: The day began with a cup of tea. For Ninda Wangchuk it was just another chilly Thursday morning at Motithang in Thimphu. The day was December 1.
The day was uneventful until he remembered that the announcement of the winning numbers for the first Phuensum Dharim, Bhutan’s monthly paper lottery was made the previous day. Oblivious to the fact that his number, 0044337, had made him richer by Nu one million, the 39-year-old was in for a pleasant surprise.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I would win the jackpot,” said Ninda Wangchuk. However, like the thousands who had bought the lottery, Ninda also had some expectation from his purchase. “Something said to me, I’m going to win.”
His first ticket from the 11 that he had bought won him his first ever lottery prize of Nu one million (non-taxable). “I didn’t tell anyone that I had the winning number ticket. I wanted to confirm it first and only then share it with my family and friends,” he said.
Ninda Wangchuk hasn’t used his winnings yet. He has plans to support a few underprivileged children so that they can continue their education. “I also have a wish to render my support in the renovation and reconstruction of some ancient temples and monasteries back in my village, Kurtoe.”
When the paper lottery was first launched, Ninda Wangchuk wanted to be a sub distributor in Thimphu. He got 20 booklets from the distributor and kept 11 tickets for himself. “Anybody can win this lottery. There is no forgery or any false play, trust me I’ve experienced it myself.”
He wishes to continue being a sub distributor and also buy tickets, as his confidence in the lottery system after this victory is higher than ever.
The second prize worth Nu 500,000 went to Sonam Lhendup from Gelephu. The 42-year-old is an ambulance driver with the Gelephu hospital.
Of the three tickets Sonam had bought, two won him prizes: Nu 100 and Nu 500,000. “I was on night duty that day. Nurses at the hospital were checking their ticket numbers. I asked one of them to see my tickets as well and I was informed I had won two prizes.”
He said that the news came to him and his family as a surprise that they would never forget. “I would like to use the money to educate my three children,” he said, adding that he will also be sending his 65-year-old mother for pilgrimage after 15 long years.
With people suggesting him to conduct rituals to avoid bad omens with the win, Sonam Lhendup has conducted several at home. He also provided patients at the Phuentsholing hospital with meals on December 4. He wants to conduct similar programmes at the Gelephu and Yebilabcha hospitals.
The third prize worth Nu 200,000 went to a monk from Punakha. Pemba Dhendup, popularly know as Chophel to his friends and family thought some of his colleagues were fooling around when he was informed that he had won the lottery.
“I was surprised when I was informed that I had won in real,” he said. Pemba Dhendup said that he would not have bought the tickets if it weren’t for a shopkeeper in Khuruthang who insisted him to buy her tickets. “I didn’t believe in such things before but now I’ve seen it work. I’ll participate in the future as well.”
Pemba Dhendup wants to save some amount from the prize and with the remaining money he wants to visit Bodhgaya for pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, the Royal Bhutan Lottery Ltd (RBLL) has sold 60 percent of the 200,000 tickets that were printed. Officials said that maximum winning numbers were already sold out.
The first prize number was drawn four times as the previously drawn numbers were from the unsold category, said one of the RBLL officials. According to officials, claims are still on-going and agents in different regions will submit the claim details to RBLL on December 25. The RBLL office in Phuentsholing has received around 20 claims till date. Prizes above Nu 10,000 have to be collected at the office.
RBLL has also printed 50,000 national day bumper lottery, which will be drawn on December 17 at 3pm in Phuentsholing. The first prize is a kilogramme of gold.