Seventeen brothers and sisters from New Jersey who pooled money for a decade to buy lottery tickets got the ultimate payout -- a $20 million Pick-6 jackpot they'll use to repair homes they lost in Sandy, send their children to college and preserve the legacy of their late mother, who urged them to vie for the pot together in the first place.
The Endreson clan members, who range in age from 53 to 76, accepted the check from the New Jersey Lottery Thursday. They opted for a lump sum payment of $14 million -- about $10 million after taxes -- to share amongst themselves and with three children of a brother who died a few years ago.
One of the sisters said the family began pooling small bills together 10 years ago because their mother wanted to invest in a future of family bungalows at the Jersey Shore. When she died, there was money left in a pot and they invested that in the lottery. They didn't win -- that time.
As the brothers and sisters considered how to preserve their mother's legacy, they decided to continue the tradition of the lottery pool.
Eventually, they won. The family describes themselves as hard-working people who "go to work every day like everyone else."
"You just can't even imagine the feeling," said sister Faith Schiabor, recalling when her sister phoned her to tell her they had won the top prize. "I just went into instant shock. I was really happy for her at first - i didn't think that it was our ticket. I thought she won. Then when she said it was the family lottery, I said, 'Oh my god.'"
Asked what their mother would say about the big lotto win, Schiabor's sister who purchased the winning ticket said, "She'd just be so laid back."
The lottery says the family's patriarch emigrated from Norway in the early 20th century and married a woman from the Jersey Shore. They set roots in Ocean County, and most of the family has been there since.