By Rande Iaboni
(CNN) — The Endreson family lottery pool — a tradition born out of their mother’s long-term dreams — finally paid off when the 17 siblings won a $20 million jackpot, New Jersey lottery officials said Thursday.
The siblings, ranging in age from 53 to 76, began playing the lottery decades ago because of their mother’s dream of buying bungalows at the Jersey Shore, where most of the family lives.
After the hopeful matriarch, Flossie Endreson, passed away in 2004, the siblings chipped in to pay for funeral expenses and realized they had set aside too much. Instead of taking the remaining money back, the siblings started a new lottery pool in their mother’s honor, said family spokeswoman Marie McHenry.
“We’re a family of working people,” McHenry said, “We just go to work every day like everyone else.”
The Endresons’ good fortune comes after their share of hardships.
Four family members lost their homes during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and one sibling lost his life shortly after the storm.
The jackpot winnings “couldn’t have come at a better time,” McHenry said.
The siblings’ father emigrated from Norway in the early 20th century, later meeting their mother on the Jersey Shore, where the family remained and settled in Ocean County, McHenry said. The pair had 19 children, according to N.J. lottery. One child died at birth.
When asked what their mother would say about winning the lottery, one sibling shouted: “Hallelujah!”
The total jackpot was $20.1 million with the family opting to take a lump sum payment of $14 million, about $10 million after taxes, according to the New Jersey lottery.
Family members would not comment on how they plan to divide the winnings, but said they would share it with the three children of their recently deceased brother.
John Endreson, one of the siblings who lost his home during Superstorm Sandy, broke down during the press conference as he talked about the devastation of the storm.
The storm “depleted my savings and now things are looking pretty good. Thanks to the state of New Jersey and my mom. Thank you all,” he said.
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