Million-dollar windfall for Indian office worker

Fri Oct 28, 2011 5:49pm EDT
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters) - An office worker too poor to own a television set has won an unprecedented $1 million in the Indian version of TV game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

Sushil Kumar's win this week drew comparisons with the plot of 2008 Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" and, like its fictional protagonist Jamal, the 27-year-old also watched the TV show as an escape from penury.

This is the first time a contestant has won a million dollars on the popular TV show hosted by Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan. The episode will be broadcast next week and Kumar takes home 3.5 crore rupees (about $720,000) after tax.

Kumar, who watched the show at a neighbor's house because his family was too poor to afford a television set, said he had not made any grand plans for the money, a fortune in a country with a per capita income of $1,265.

"I'm going to repair my house, fulfill a few basic needs and then move to Delhi to study for the civil service exams," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Kumar works as a computer operator in a government office in the impoverished eastern state of Bihar and earns 6,000 rupees (around $120) per month.

"Our house has almost broken down and we have a lot of loans that have to be repaid," he said.

"If it hadn't been for this money, I would have gotten old before I sorted out my life."   Continued...

<p>Sushil Kumar (C) and his wife pose with Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan (R) after Kumar won about $1 million on an Indian game show in Mumbai October 25, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer</p>