Raise your hand if you fantasized about winning the recent Kosrae Nautilus raffle, which offered participants a chance to own a successful island resort for only $49.
Well, meet the lucky winner: Joshua Ptasznyk, a 26-year-old tax accountant from Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.
As one might expect from an accountant, entering the raffle was initially a numbers game for Ptasznyk. “It looked like a competition that I had a chance of winning,” he told TODAY. “The odds were reasonable compared to lotto or Powerball, and it looked like a fun, rewarding experience … something completely different than what I am used to, that would challenge and reward me at the same time.”
Ptasznyk bought three tickets and forgot about the contest — until a phone call came on July 26 that would change his life forever. Kosrae Nautilus owner Doug Beitz had planned to announce the winner in a live drawing on Facebook, but when he called Ptasznyk's number on live video stream, he reached his mother at home instead. She quickly passed along her son's cellphone number.
"I was at a local pub at Tuesday night trivia," Ptasznyk recalled, "I was not 100 percent sure at the time what the call was about. Then Doug was like, 'Did you enter a competition to win an island?' and I was like, 'Yes, I did,' and he was like, 'You have won!'"
"At the time, I was in shock, to tell the truth," Ptasznyk confessed. "I was amazed and terrified at the same time ... It was not until later that the enormity of what had happened hit me."
Though Ptasznyk had purchased multiple entries, the reality of winning brought mixed emotions. “The island looked like a lovely place to visit, a lush tropical paradise,” he explained. “I had no idea I was going to win, and managing a resort is a completely different experience to managing workflow at the office.
“It was a bit overwhelming, all the attention I got after the win,” he continued. “It felt a bit daunting and tiring … But Doug, Sally (Beitz) and their family have been great through it. There are some second thoughts, but nothing that would change my mind about entering.”
Luckily, Ptasznyk has plenty of time to wrap his head around the win: He must apply for a foreign exchange permit and pass health and background checks before he can begin the transition process, which will involve transferring business ownership, signing over control of the bank accounts, and learning how the resort operates.
Ptasznyk hopes to take a deep dive (pun intended) into island life over the next two months. Upon visiting, he will decide whether he will manage the resort in person or hire someone to run it on his behalf; either way, he plans to take a hands-on role in his new slice of paradise.
Aside from taking on big, new responsibilities, there is plenty to look forward to. So what is Ptasznyk most excited about? “Probably scuba diving,” he said. “I have never done it before, and it looks like a surreal experience. The reefs are said to be one of a kind in Micronesia. I would also like to check out the ruins on the island.”
And, of course, his friends and family are excited too. “A few have already asked for the penthouse suite,” he said.