Jackpot Summer

Jackpot Summer

by Elyssa Friedland
Jackpot Summer

Jackpot Summer

by Elyssa Friedland


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After the Jacobson siblings win a life-changing fortune in the lottery, they assume their messy lives will transform into sleek, storybook perfection–but they couldn’t be more wrong.
The four Jacobson children were raised to respect the value of a dollar. Their mother reused tea bags and refused to pay retail; their father taught them to budget before he taught them to ride a bike. And yet, now that they’re adults, their financial lives are in disarray.
The siblings reunite when their newly widowed father puts their Jersey Shore beach house on the market. Packing up childhood memories isn’t easy, especially when there’s other drama brewing. Matthew is miserable at his corporate law job and wishes he had more time with his son; Laura’s marriage is imploding in spectacular fashion; Sophie’s art career is stalled while her boyfriend’s is on the rise; and Noah’s total failure to launch has him doing tech repair for pennies.
When Noah sees an ad for a Powerball drawing, he and his sisters go in on tickets while their brother Matthew passes.  All hell breaks loose when one of the tickets is a winner and three of the four Jacobsons become overnight millionaires. Without their mother’s guidance, and with their father busy playing pickleball in a Florida retirement village, the once close-knit siblings search for comfort in shiny new toys instead of each other.
It’s not long before the Jacobsons start to realize that they’ll never feel rich unless they can pull their family back together.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593638545
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/11/2024
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 19,276
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Elyssa Friedland is the acclaimed author of Last Summer at the Golden Hotel, The Floating Feldmans, The Intermission, and Love and Miss Communication. Elyssa is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School and currently teaches novel writing at Yale. She lives with her husband and three children in New York City, the best place on earth.

Read an Excerpt

Los Angeles Times


By Macy Roko

Billy Rockwell knows better than anyone what it feels like to go from rags to riches overnight. He's the winner of the largest jackpot in the country's history, a whopping $2.3 billion. And for a period of eighteen months, Rockwell was living large. But by the third anniversary of the historic win, the country's biggest winner was living in a homeless encampment ten miles from his foreclosed Beverly Hills mansion.

"Booze, drugs and women," Rockwell said, speaking from inside his tent, which he shares with three other homeless individuals. "They will get you every time." His only remaining possession of value is a rhino horn from Tanzania that he purchased on eBay for $2 million. "It was supposed to bring me luck," Rockwell said. The horn turned out to be a replica.

Rockwell isn't alone in falling on hard times after hitting it big. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, a staggering seventy percent of lottery winners go bankrupt within five years.

"Most winners go hog wild," Everett McPherson, an accountant with nationally recognized firm Ernst & Young, said. "And they don't realize just how large a slice of the pie Uncle Sam is going to take." McPherson explained that taxes can eat up nearly half the advertised value of the jackpot.

"Billy was no good with money from day one," his ex-wife, Jeannie Rockwell, said. "The Elvis who married us in Vegas swindled him out of three hundred bucks on our wedding night."

Des Moines Register


By Carson Roberts

The residents of Holly Springs, Iowa, a quaint hamlet with a population of six thousand, have collectively won the Iowa state lottery. The $40-million prize was divided equally among the town residents, each of whom contributed five dollars toward the purchase.

Holly Springs is a factory town where life centers around potluck backyard barbecues and celebrations at the town pool. The day the residents discovered their win, the mayor organized a parade and fireworks display.

"Our citizens are simple people," Mayor Julia Stillman said of how the lottery win will change life in Holly Springs. "I used my share of the winnings to build a man cave for my husband so he leaves me in peace."

Harrisburg Gazette


By Emily Emerson

"There's nothing like hearing that 'Wheeeeeee!'"

That's what Dwayne Jenkins said when asked what prompted him to buy every child in his town of East Rocklin, Pennsylvania, a fire pole after he won $6 million in the Lucky Bucks lottery.

Jenkins has been a firefighter in East Rocklin for nearly twenty years. He said he knew he wanted to fight fires since he was a little boy. It was the pole that attracted him.

"I couldn't believe there was a job where I could slide down a pole," Jenkins said, arm around his wife, Nola, on the porch of their new house, a 3,000-square-foot ranch on four acres of pristine farmland. The house was the couple's biggest splurge after the win, but Jenkins seems far more excited about gifting the fire poles.

"Not all the parents are happy with me," Jenkins said. "There have been a few broken arms."

The Star-Ledger


Drama Surrounds Sibling Win

By Jeanette Espinosa

It's time for people to stop thumbing their noses at the Garden State. Making lottery history, two of the four winning tickets of a $261 million Powerball were claimed by New Jersey residents who purchased their winning tickets over July Fourth weekend. The chances of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338, so having two winners from New Jersey is quite the reason to celebrate. Sources in Governor Phil Murphy's office are saying a ticker-tape parade is under consideration.

Mabel Collins of Rumson, an eighty-two-year-old retired elementary school bus driver, took home over $30 million before taxes. She said she plans to use the money to help her local church and shower her twelve grandchildren with gifts.

"I'm at Target every day now buying gifts for my babies," Ms. Collins said. "It's constant Christmas over here."

The other New Jersey winner is a set of siblings with a family home in Beach Haven on the south end of Long Beach Island. The three siblings, whose last name is Jacobson, were quickly dubbed the Jackpot Jacobsons. The nickname has been adopted by the local summer community where the family has owned a home for more than three decades.

Unlike Ms. Collins, each of the Jacobson siblings declined to comment on the win. Public records show that Laura Jacobson is in contract to purchase a 7,000-square-foot home in upscale Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. Sister Sophie is listed on LinkedIn as a public school teacher in Brooklyn, but calls to the school indicate she is no longer employed there. The third sibling, Noah Jacobson, works as a private tech-support specialist but appears to have no official business or property registered to his name. One Beach Haven resident who wished to remain anonymous but described herself as a close family friend was not optimistic about the Jacobsons.

"Drama, drama, drama," she said. "That's all that winning the lottery has done for that poor family. Well, maybe poor isn't the right word."



"Well that was depressing," Sophie said. "I'm surprisingly hungry considering we were at Mom's grave less than ten minutes ago." She tilted the syrup dispenser and let it ooze over her pancake stack.

"I am too," Noah said, lifting a forkful of scrambled eggs. "But these eggs are awful compared to the ones at Chegg."

"You think everything is better at Chegg," Sophie said, referencing the Chicken or the Egg, one of the famous eateries on Long Beach Island.

"It is," the rest of the table responded, a chorus of voices that included Noah, Matthew, Laura, Laura's husband Doug and the patriarch of the Jacobson clan, Leo.

"For the hundredth time, you did not get food poisoning from Chegg," Laura said to Sophie, lowering the gigantic Kenilworth Diner menu she'd been using to hide her tear-streaked face. "You were puking because you drank too much of Dad's Chivas Regal. I saw you."

Leo raised an eyebrow at what apparently was coming as news to him.

Sophie considered Laura's claim. Maybe she had been conflating memories. The night of her alleged food poisoning was nearly twenty years ago.

"I thought the gravestone was very nice," Matthew, the oldest Jacobson sibling, said. His comment brought them back to why they were gathered in northern New Jersey on a sunny afternoon in June. It was for the unveiling of the gravestone marking the place their mother was buried. "I think Mom would have approved."

"She more than approved," Leo said, wiping Tabasco sauce from his mouth with a paper napkin. "She designed it."

The siblings' gasps quickly gave way to wry chuckling. They shouldn't have expected anything less from Sylvia Jacobson. Sophie considered the tombstone inscription with renewed appreciation, especially the line about canasta, the card game that was their mother's addiction.

Sylvia Rose Jacobson

February 6, 1947-June 30, 2023

Devoted Wife, Beloved Mother to the Fantastic Foursome, Book Lover, Volunteer, Jersey Girl

"Awaiting Special Hands in Heaven"

"Did I ever tell you that Mom emailed me a detailed description of what the girls and I should wear to her funeral, including accessories?" Laura said. "Oh, and that Doug shouldn't wear a navy tie."

"And I didn't. I wore yellow," Laura's husband said proudly.

"When she could barely speak anymore, she managed to mime that pink lipstick washes me out," Sophie said, puckering her burgundy-painted lips. "I listened too."

"I added the 'devoted' and 'beloved' to the inscription," Leo said. "She didn't want it to be too schmaltzy. This may be the first argument I ever won."

"I can definitely see her finding a regular canasta game in heaven," Sophie said. "Where she will win many special hands."

"Did anyone feel like they were waiting for directions from Mom today? Like where to stand, what to do," Matthew asked. "It's so weird to all be together and not have someone boss us around."

Sophie knew exactly what her brother was saying. She'd been staring at the plot of earth under which her mother lay buried, expecting a wagging finger to poke through the dirt.

Their mother had been the protective force field surrounding them at all times, instructing their next moves, sharing her opinions whether they were welcome or not. Even Leo took direction from his wife as though he were a fifth child. Sylvia's departure from this world one year earlier still gave Sophie the constant feeling that she was forgetting something, like leaving the house without her keys.

"At least we'll all be at the house for July Fourth weekend," Noah said. "Mom would like that."

The Jacobson family celebrating the Fourth of July together was a tradition dating to Sophie's childhood, when cousins and friends would gather at their summer house on Long Beach Island for the holiday weekend. Over the years, it grew to a full-blown daytime party with an overflowing buffet-almost all the dishes homemade by Sylvia-and concluded with the town fireworks. That Sylvia died just days before the holiday last year, forcing them to trade hot dogs, burgers and Sylvia's famous coleslaw for shiva platters of deli meats and rugelach that barely anyone touched, was especially painful.

"Excuse me," Beth said, waving a hand toward the diner's counter. Sophie noted it was the first time Matthew's wife had looked up from her phone since they'd sat down.

A waitress with a pencil behind her ear and a bored expression walked over with two steaming pots of coffee. "More joe? I got regular and decaf."

Beth shielded the top of her mug. "Not for me. I was wondering if you could provide the Wi-Fi password. The service in here is terrible."

The waitress wrinkled her nose. "Back in a minute."

"Sorry, I'm just absolutely slammed at work," Beth said. "I have to get a brief out within the hour."

"Does she ever stop?" Laura muttered to Sophie, jutting her chin in the direction of their sister-in-law. Sophie rolled her eyes in return.

"I found the air mattresses," Noah said, bringing the conversation back to the holiday weekend. "I'll have them pumped up before you guys get there."

"I call a real bed," Sophie said. "I'll have just finished teaching and need good sleep."

"That's fine. The girls and Austin will take the blowups," Laura said, referencing her two daughters and Matthew and Beth's son, the third-generation Jacobsons. "Doug too if his snoring keeps up."

"I don't snore," Doug said.

"Oh yes, you do."

"No, I don't."

"Okay, I'll record you."

"Fine, I'll try the damn nose strips again."

"He needs a CPAP machine," Laura said to her three siblings. Sophie shrugged. Luckily Ravi, her boyfriend of nearly two years, only snored when he drank too much. They spent just two nights together a week anyway.

"Miss! Miss!" Beth called out. Sophie followed Beth's flailing arms to where the waitress was schmoozing with a line cook behind the counter. "The Wi-Fi, please?"

Matthew turned to Beth. "Can't you finish up after lunch? We'll be back in the city in an hour."

Beth looked horrified. "Absolutely not. And don't you have to turn around that offering memorandum by EOD?"

So there were people who actually said EOD out loud, Sophie mused. She pinched Laura's knee at the same time Laura kicked Sophie's ankle under the table.

Matthew's expression shifted. "You're right. Let me go speak to the waitress." He left the table as Beth continued to jab at her phone, clearly frustrated to discover the Jersey diner wasn't as technically equipped as her law firm.

"I can probably hook you up to a hotspot," Noah said. The youngest Jacobson sibling had always been a technology whiz.

"Thanks. Tight deadline," Beth said as she handed over her phone to Noah. "In fact, we've got to head out soon anyway. Austin's in the last round of his chess tournament. He's up a rook in game seven."

Sophie gave Beth a thumbs-up, assuming "up a rook" was a good thing.

"Us too," Laura said. "Hannah bought six prom dresses, and if I don't get home soon, she'll rip the tags off and we'll be stuck keeping all of them."

"Did we give her a budget?" Doug asked.

"Of course. But you know Hannah. She'll have some reason why she needs to spend more." Laura scoffed lovingly.

"I'll help her choose," Sophie said. "FaceTime me when you get home. This falls under the cool-aunt umbrella."

As the siblings started to collect their things, Leo held up his hand. "Hang on, everyone. I have something I need to tell you kids." The widower glanced at his lap, took a visibly deep breath, and righted his head. Looking at no one in particular, he said, "I sold the beach house."

"You what?" Sophie and Laura managed to sputter. Noah went white as a sheet and dropped Beth's phone into the puddle of ketchup on his plate. Beth let out a yelp.

"Got the password," Matthew said cheerfully as he reappeared at the table. "It's 'joysey'-spelled J-O-Y-S . . ." He paused. "Sheesh, what did I miss?"

Noah looked at their older brother with tear-filled eyes. "Dad sold our happy place."

The next day, across the river from where her mother lay to rest, Sophie watched an open container of glitter topple on its side, roll down the entire length of the long metal craft table, collide with the floor and deposit miniscule red sparkles on the checkered linoleum of her classroom. She did not get paid nearly enough to do this job.

"Awesome!" Harrison, a third grader, said as he removed a finger from his nose to applaud the mess.

"Look at my sneakers," Lulu, another child in the class, said, shimmying a high-top in the air.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Jacobson," said Owen, the klutziest child at P.S. 282 in Brooklyn's Park Slope. Sophie, Ms. Jacobson between eight a.m. to three p.m., was one of two art teachers at the school and managed to get Owen Cullman-Romero assigned to her class every year. So far he had Krazy-Glued his fingers together, dropped crayons in the radiator and managed to get a paintbrush stuck in his ear canal. And now, glitter everywhere.

Glitter was the bane of Sophie Jacobson's professional existence. Sparkles from the autumn leaves project in October would appear in tissues when she blew her nose during a December cold. Specks clung to her sweaters and eyelids for weeks. As much as she couldn't stand it, the kids loved it, so at least once a month Sophie relented and let them glitter their papier-mâché birds, their self-portraits, their clay mugs. This incident though. A whole container. She would be sparkling for eternity.

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