A Buddhist monk in Thailand has began giving away his over half a million dollars in lottery winnings to his temple and surrounding community.
The 47-year-old monk, who works at Wat Phra That Phanom Woramahawihan in the Nakhon Phanom province of northeastern Thailand, normally is against gambling but told Thai media he decided to help a lottery ticket vendor who was struggling to make a sale amid the COVID-19 pandemic in late February. He reportedly bought three tickets from the man three days before the bi-monthly draw on March 1.
Much to the monk’s surprise, his numbers were pulled during the draw, and he took home the Thai government’s lottery grand prize of 18 million baht (approximately $537,000).
The monk reportedly believes that the money belongs to the angels and that it was only right to donate it to the needy and people in his community. He believed the spiritual entities had blessed him for taking care of their temple for more than a decade.
The monk decided to donate his winnings to charity and to divide the money between the temple, schools and other organizations in his area.
He also started handing out 500 baht (approximately $15) to more than 1,000 locals in the local community; however, he eventually decreased the amount he was giving out to individuals to 200 baht (approximately $6) each, after thousands more gathered outside his temple.
Authorities eventually had to step in to control the spread of COVID-19 as a result of the huge gathering.
The monk had purportedly given out a total of 1.5 million baht (approximately $44,800) as of March 7.
A similar story made headlines in November 2020 when a monk won the same amount from the lottery and gave away some of his winnings to the temple and those who needed it. The previous winner eventually had to go into hiding after thousands of people started to gather outside their temple asking for donations.