Shanavas, 41, who works for a rent-a-car company in Al Quoz, Dubai, for Dh4,800 a month, plans to continue working despite his big win.
“I’m still excited about the win and was unable to sleep for two days after learning about the news,” said Shanavas, who asked for his last name not to be made public.
“I will initially use the winning money to pay off my loan and other liabilities in the UAE and also for property maintenance. I’d prefer to invest in the UAE than India.”
Shanavas shares the top prize with Nelson, a 44-year-old Filipino, who works as a machine operator for a wet wipes company in the UAE, earning Dh3,500 a month.
“My right hand itched on the night of the draw and that is supposed to be a sign of luck,” said Nelson, who also refused to disclose his last name.
He plans to continue working because he loves his job in the UAE.
“I cannot concentrate now, but will focus on family first. I want to use this money to build my dream home for my family back home and my daughter wants me to buy her a Honda City car,” said Nelson, who has three kids aged 21, 19 and 7 in his home country.
“I also plan to start an apartment rental business in the Philippines.”
This marks the first time the jackpot has been shared by two players.
Shanavas, who hails from Trivandrum in the Indian state of Kerala, has been living in the UAE for 14 years, away from his family, as his wife and two children, aged 8 and 4, are based in India.
He had previously won Dh35 in the Mahzooz weekly draw and had been participating in the contest for one-and-a-half years.
Shanavas chose the winning numbers 7, 9, 17, 19 and 21 randomly and learnt about his win when he received a call from Mahzooz organisers the following morning.
Nelson chose the winning numbers based on his family members’ birthdays.
He realised he had won Dh5m on the night of the draw while working the night shift. His friend told him that he had won the top prize.
Hesitant to believe him, Nelson checked his Mahzooz account to verify it as he initially assumed his friend was playing a practical joke. He promptly informed his family through a video call.
"My family and I cannot believe it. This is the first time in my life that I win such a sizeable sum of money,” he said.
Mahzooz has created 27 multimillionaires so far and paid out prize money worth Dh260m, said Farid Samji, chief executive of Ewings, the company that operates the weekly draw.
Indians and Filipinos top the list of participants. The draw has "changed the lives of" more than 180,000 people through distributing prize money, Mr Samji said.
Three people take home Dh100,000 each in the Mahzooz weekly draw. A top prize of Dh10m, second prize of Dh1m and third prize of Dh350 are also up for grabs every week.
People can take part by registering at www.mahzooz.ae
The Mahzooz — Arabic for ‘lucky’ — draw is held every Saturday at 9pm. Participants must register online and purchase a Dh35 bottle of water to enter. Its biggest winner is Junaid Rana, a Pakistani driver, who scooped the Dh50m grand prize in October.
Participants in the Emirates Draw have to match seven numbers to win the mega prize of Dh100m, the largest on offer in the UAE. However, nobody has yet claimed the top prize.
UAE lottery winners - pictures
In January 2016, the world’s biggest lottery win of $1.58 billion was split between three winners in the US Powerball jackpot.
However, the largest single win was in 2018, when an anonymous person from North Carolina scooped $1.53bn in a Mega Millions game.
Ten ways to win cash prizes in the UAE
- Mahzooz draw (previously Emirates Loto) — Dh10m
- Emirates Draw — Dh100m
- Big Ticket Abu Dhabi Duty Free draw — Dh15m
- Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire draw — $1m (Dh3.67m)
- ADIB Ghina Savings draw — Dh3m grand prize plus monthly prizes
- ADCB Millionaire Savings accounts — Dh1m grand prize plus monthly prizes
- Kunooz Savings Account — grand prizes of Dh1m and a Tesla
- FAB Al Awwal Savings Certificate — Dh1m yearly grand prize and Dh200,000 every quarter plus monthly prizes
- Mashreq Millionaire — Dh1m grand prize plus monthly prizes
- National Bonds Reward Programme — two Dh1m grand prizes every quarter plus monthly prizes