ABANDONED by his divorced parents, he was once so poor that he had to sleep next to a drain.
But through the hard times, he harboured a dream of striking it rich one day.
Though money was tight, he would spent up to $80 a week buying Toto tickets.
His dream came true in August.
Mr Liang Xin Lu (left), 57, who was once made bankrupt, is now a millionaire.
His rags-to-riches story is an overnight one.
The excavator operator won more than $1.7 million in Toto.
He was the sole winner of the first prize.
Singapore Pools holds twice-weekly Toto draws as well as special draws like the Hongbao draw, where the prize money is $10 million.
The biggest winners to date are two punters who shared a $10.5 million jackpot in 2007.
Despite his new-found wealth, life has not changed for Mr Liang, who earns a basic monthly salary of $1,600.
He told Lianhe Wanbao that he has not done anything fancy with his money, apart from giving $50,000 to each of his three grown-up children – two daughters and a son.
He lives in a HDB flat with his family.
He said he also donated a small sum to charity, but declined to reveal the amount and the name of the charity.
The New Paper understands that he also spent a portion of his winnings treating his friends to meals at restaurants.
The rest of his fortune will remain in the bank while he decides what to do with the money.
Mr Liang is believed to be the first Singaporean to reveal his identity, complete with photographs, to the media after becoming a millionaire from winning Toto.
Why reveal himself unlike the other big winners?
“Everyone around me, my family and friends, already know about my win. Besides, Singapore is a safe country,” said Mr Liang.
However, he declined to be interviewed by newspaper, as he said that his family had chided him for revealing his identity.
They found out about his interview with Lianhe Wanbao yesterday only when the article was published.
He said that he had bought his winning $20 Toto ticket on Aug 19 during his lunch break.
His outlet of choice was at Block 108, Punggol Field.
He went back to work that afternoon and realised he had won at 8pm that evening when he checked the results.
Ecstatic about his huge windfall, he rushed home to tell his family.
The next morning, he went to the Singapore Pools office to collect his winnings in the form of a cheque.
His August win was the first time that he won the first prize, although he had won consolation prizes in the past.
He said: “Even if a person spends (a lot), he probably cannot use up this sum of money.”
“But my life will not change because of this money. I will continue my life as per normal.”
Though he can comfortably live off his winnings, Mr Liang plans to continue working despite the long hours.
He works till 10pm daily.
He takes home about $2,000 a month including overtime pay.
Throughout the interview with Lianhe Wanbao at a coffee shop, he remained calm about his win.
He had a rough life, he said.
His parents divorced when he was young and he had a difficult childhood.
They treated him like a “human ball”, pushing him to one another, he said.
At 14, he started working as a coffee-shop helper and moved on to become a factory worker, mechanic, taxi driver and delivery man of bread and soya milk.
He was so poor and exhausted after work that he ended up spending some nights sleeping next to a drain.
He said he was declared bankrupt in the 80s after a failed business venture.
Said Mr Liang: “I’ve suffered for such a long time. Now my hardship is finally over.”
On his long-time habit of buying Toto, he said: “I like buying Toto because it is like using a small knife to chop a big tree.”
“When I buy, there is hope. Whether I win or not, that’s up to fate. It cannot be forced.”
This article was first published in The New Paper.