Sushil Kumar has become the first ever man to win India’s $1 million grand prize on its version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.”
The story closely resembles that of the inspirational 2008 Academy Award winner “Slumdog Millionaire.” Kumar, from the poor East Indian town of Bihar, is employed as a computer data entry operator and earns barely enough to get by. He shared that he grew up without as much as a television set, as his family could not afford one.
His win has made him a national icon who gives hope to millions of India’s poor that rising above one’s situation is indeed possible. It is said he was encouraged by neighbors who were impressed by his ability to answer the questions on TV to go on the actual show and give it a try.
After applying and passing a test, he was informed he would be on the show in Mumbai only a few days before it was taped. He had never been on a plane before nor even visited a major city - but by Saturday night, his life was turned on its head.
The popular Indian game show, which airs on Sony Entertainment Television India, has had people win its top prize before, but Kumar is the first to earn the $1 million total since the jackpot was upped two years ago.
“Maybe I’ll believe this when I actually watch the episode with my family on TV,” Kumar said, still finding it hard to absorb his historical achievement.
When asked what he plans to do with the money, he revealed humble desires - he wants to buy a house for his family, and pay for an exam that will allow him to apply for a civil service job. Despite his winnings, he firmly expects to continue working.
He also plans to go back to his small town and donate a library to the people, giving kids the opportunity to read and learn and make a better life for themselves.
The episode is scheduled on air on Nov.2, and promises to be an emotional show for the viewers.
Amitabh Bachchan, the popular Bollywood icon who hosts the show, shared that the place “exploded” with jubilation, with the audience and Kumar’s family screaming and crying with joy, creating what the host described as the wildest scenes he had seen throughout his 11 years on the program.