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By Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey couple, raising three of their grandchildren after losing their daughter to Lupus in recent years, won a $1 million lottery prize earlier this year, lottery officials said Tuesday.

“This will be the beginning of good fortune to our family,” Jackie told lottery officials through tears.

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The New Jersey Lottery identified the couple only by first name. Long Branch residents Jackie and Rande won the second-tier prize of the March 31 Mega Millions drawing. Their ticket matched all five of the white balls drawn, winning the couple $1 million.

“They are the most deserving people in New Jersey,” said a friend of the couple’s, identified by lottery officials only as Debbie. “They have helped so many people in their times of need, and now it is their turn to receive this very necessary blessing.”

Jackie and Rande said they plan to use the money first on paying their bills and then on raising their grandchildren.

“I am just very grateful,” Rande said. “This will help our lives out a lot.”

The winning ticket was bought at Long Branch Convenience in Long Branch.