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Lucky fan's new home is one in 21 million

Joe Haran spotted his boss wearing flip-flops and momentarily became confused about the business dinner he'd been invited to Monday night.

"I thought I missed the memo," said Haran, 41, an environmental scientist from St. Petersburg. "They said we were going to woo clients, so I put on my khakis and my wife, Jodi, had on a little black dress."

He got out six words before HGTV's Taniya Nayak and a half-dozen cameras appeared to let the Harans know why they had been lured to the Red Mesa Cantina.

"Taniya said, 'Do you know me?' " said Jodi Haran, 38, a personal trainer. "And I told her I did. I recognized her immediately."

After two years of entering the network's "dream home" contests, Haran won the 2013 HGTV Urban Oasis grand prize, which includes a fully furnished Boston condo and new Acura MDX crossover sport-utility vehicle.

"It was a lot of excitement and pretty intense," Joe Haran explained. "We weren't expecting it."

According to HGTV, more than 21 million people entered the online drawing.

The Harans ended up the lucky ones.

Joe Haran said he'd entered six or more HGTV home contests since he started getting into the network's programming. The couple had their own DIY project in the 1920s bungalow they bought in Historic Kenwood.

"We had this beautiful front porch that was all closed in with ugly aluminum," Joe Haran said. They took advantage of Historic Kenwood's program to open porches, as well as building a kitchen from scratch and designing their bathrooms. HGTV helped with ideas and inspiration.

"It was three and a half years of work," Jodi Haran said. "We aren't going anywhere. We love St. Petersburg and we've been here for 11 years."

Still, Boston is home for Joe Haran, who grew the city's suburbs. The couple lived there for several years before migrating south, closer to where they met in 1993 at the University of West Florida in Pensacola.

"It's always been a dream of ours if we were ever able to retire to have a snowbird nest egg in Boston, because Joe's family all lives in the area," she said. "This has made that dream a reality."

The condo, a 1,000 square-foot, 24th floor unit at The Residences at W Boston, features one bedroom, 1 ½ baths and views of the Charles River, Boston Common and Public Garden. It's valued near $1 million, and like all prize packages the Harans will have to pay the gift taxes on it, Joe Haran said.

"We're just looking to talk to people knowledgeable about this process," he said. "It should all be running smoothly one year from now."

The Harans will visit their prize digs next week and then worry about the taxes and living arrangements later.

"2013 has been the best year ever and I don't think this one can be topped," Jodi Haran said. "We're just really, really thankful."

Lucky fan's new home is one in 21 million 11/07/13 [Last modified: Thursday, November 7, 2013 2:17pm]
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