Eleven female sanitation workers pooled money for a $3 lottery ticket and won India’s 100 million rupee ($1.2 million) jackpot.
The women make $3 a day separating non-biodegradable garbage from degradable, WION News reported.
After taxes, the women will split amongst themselves $700,000, the New York Times reported.
One of the winners, Leela K, explained what a blessing her winnings will be.
“I’m swimming in debt, so this money will be a big relief,” the mother of four daughters said. “I will finally have peace of mind. But my tension will vanish only when the money comes into my account.”
She will continue to work, since most of her winnings will go to pay off her debt.
Suhasini Raj and Mike Ives of the New York Times reported:
Five of the winners also happen to be from social classes whose members were once deemed untouchable by the country’s hierarchical caste system. Ms. Leela, for example, is from the Dalit community, a class of about 300 million Indians whose members face widespread mistreatment and violence, even after winning a series of landmark constitutional protections over the years.
Radha M.P said she waited till the next morning to check the results. “When I checked the winning number, it was the same as the ticket,” Radha said. “But we could not believe it!”
According to KT Balabhaskaran, a senior sanitation official in Kerala, the winnings were “life-changing” for the women.
India is a very poor country with a per capita gross domestic product of $2,400. It is also “one of the most unequal countries in the world,” according to NPR.