You would think when a single mother of four who lived in a mobile home struck it rich, she would be living on easy street. However, when Marie Holmes hit the Powerball lottery jackpot and won $188 million, her life changed in ways she never expected.
One In A Million
Winning the lottery is a dream come true for most. For a struggling mother in Shallotte, North Carolina, her chances of winning a jackpot was one in 175 million. However, for Marie Holmes, she was that someone to hit it big.
In Shallotte, North Carolina, Kevin Matthews worked as a pastor. In fact, Marie Holmes attended his church frequently. She even sought his religious guidance and advice throughout the trials and tribulations of her life. Kevin Matthews was dedicated to helping all of his church members and even called himself “a warrior of Christ.” He planned to do great things for his church and those that attended including his close, personal friend Marie Holmes. There is nothing wrong with that, right?
Winning The Jackpot
Although Marie Holmes considered herself very religious, she was also a single mother with little financial support. She decided to purchase a lottery ticket one day at the local convenient store in her hometown of Shollette, North Carolina. Well, she should also consider herself very lucky because in February of 2015, Marie Holmes won $188 million Powerball jackpot. She could only imagine how the winnings would change her life. What would be the first thing you did if you hit the jackpot for so much money?
Claiming The Money
Marie Holmes, as you can imagine, was shocked when she discovered she won the jackpot. As the winner, she had a maximum of 180 days to claim her prize. Marie Holmes also had to decide if she was going to receive installments of her $188 million over a period of 30 years or take the one-time lump sum of $127 million. Like many of us, she chose the latter and collected her cash immediately. Even though it seemed like all of her prayers had been answered, she was feeling overwhelmed with so much money.
Dressing The Part
After living in poverty, Marie Holmes became a new-money millionaire. She wore a nice white suit when she claimed her prize. After smiling for the cameras, she revealed that, “I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I saw the ticket and checked it.” Was Marie Holmes ready for her blessings? Although she scraped together what she could to claim her jackpot, Marie Holmes was used to living a basic life. What sounds like a dream come true was only a nightmare in disguise as the problems started from there.
The lottery commission allows you to stay anonymous after winning millions of dollars. However, this is easier said then done. After you go on a shopping spree, buy a brand new car, and plan an exotic trip, the cat is out of the bag! Besides, if there is buzz around town that someone won plus the added notion of social media, you won’t stay anonymous for long. Nonetheless, experts say it is wise for lottery winners to stay modest and live a low-key lifestyle. Do you think Marie Holmes stayed true to her humble roots?
What Was She Going To Do?
Just as most lottery winners do, Marie Holmes swore up and down that the money would not change her. Her uncle even said, “Marie is very grounded and she will know what to do with all that money.” People figured she would buy a house and donate some church, but was that her real plan of action? Going from poor to mega-rich with over $100 million is a bit overwhelming and confusing, even for the most down-to-earth individuals. What did Marie Holmes do with all that money?
“It’s All For Them”
“Everything is all for them” said the single mom. Marie Holmes continued, “All the struggle that I ever went through, it was all for them. I want them to understand that money doesn’t change you, but it can help you. So they don’t have to worry about debt, none of that. They can go to college, all on me.” When talking about “the struggle,” Marie Holmes was not only referring to financial problems. Apparently, her father had been in and out of prison, but the loving mother promised to put her children’s interests first.
Take Me To Church
Besides her taking care of her four children, Marie Holmes did plan to make a large donation to her local church. After all, her pastor, Kevin Matthews, was a close friend who was always there for her through hard times. He gave her advice and counseled her without wanting anything in return, which is the way a devoted pastor is supposed to be, right? Well, why do we get the feeling that this is where things take a turn for the worse for Marie Holmes and her millions of dollars?
It truly is a selfless deed to help out your town, whether it is through financial donations or community services. Marie Holmes was trying to do an honorable thing. After all, she loved her neighborhood and her church. It was called the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church and she told the pastor she was donating 10% of her winnings to his establishment. This calculated to around $1.5 million. With that kind of cash flow, the church and community could do great things for everyone.
Marie Holmes planned on giving a cool million dollars to the church and the people of Shallotte. Even though that number barely dents her winnings, it is one of the highest contributions ever made to a church. Although winners in the past have given away money to churches, it came nowhere close to Marie’s generous offer. A lottery winner in Boston donated $100,000 to a church for a one-of-a-kind Christmas dinner once, but that was one of the highest donations to churches.
From Poor To Rich
Before hitting the lotto, Marie Holmes was a single mother with four children. She worked multiple jobs to support her family, but everything changed over night, literally. Her new reality was that she would not have to work a day in her life every again. Neither would her children if she invested the money wisely. However, she never had that much money before and did not know how to budget it properly. That is common for most lottery winners though. What happened next to Marie Holmes took everyone by surprise.
More Money, More Problems
You would think Kevin Matthews, the pastor of the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church would have been thrilled with such a hefty donation of $1.5 million out of the blue. However, like most people, he was greedy for me. Marie Holmes had already handed over $700,000 to her trusty pastor, but he turned around and sued her for $10 million. Why? In an unprecedented move, apparently she promised him more money. But didn’t he help her out all the time for free?
Remember when we said Marie Holmes wanted to give 10% of her winnings to the church? Well, according to reports, the pastor was suing for the full 10% despite her giving him hundreds of thousands of dollars. $10 million would be a tenth of her lump sum, not $1.5 million. Although there was no written agreement, Kevin Matthews argued they had a verbal deal. Supposedly, the pastor had already made financial contributions based on the money he thought he would receive from Marie Holmes and there alleged spoken contract.
What did the local pastor have to say about his lawsuit? He said he brought it forth “Because of the emotional distress and mental stress they put me through, I had to start taking more medicine for anxiety and depression due to this situation… I didn’t see this coming and I think it was a third party that came along and told her not to do this.” Marie was surprised about his allegations. Was he taking advantage of her?
His Word Against Hers
Kevin Matthews continued his point by saying, “The bottom line… I just want her to do what she said she was going to do. I want peace and to do what God told me to do. I want her to do what she said she was going to do. I really feel like a warrior for Christ and people need to be accountable.” While people should stand by their promises, people have the right to change their mind, don’t they? Marie Holmes had already given over $700,000 to the pastor. Some of the church members started wondering about their pastor’s intentions.
They Saw Him In A Different Light
The community of Shallotte, North Carolina adored their local pastor. They thought he was a righteous man who truly cared about helping people. Marie Holmes was a God-fearing woman, a mother of four, and an obviously generous woman. However, after the lottery drama started, the townspeople questioned Kevin Matthews’ moral standing. The story even hit the national news and people started voicing their opinions on social media. The pastor’s lawsuit left a bad taste in most people’s mouths, as you can imagine.
Her New House
Besides the lawsuit, Marie Holmes had other people in her ear. She appeared on the show Iyanla: Fix My Life after all the lottery drama. The host said her new home was a bad choice because it was a plantation-style home. She claimed that a negative energy was stored at the property because it was a former slave plantation. Iyanla thought the bad energies around the home were causing other the other problems in her life, too.
The Numbers Weren’t Random
Another portion of the show featured Marie Holmes and her mother, Fontella. Apparently, Marie Holmes claimed the numbers were random at one point, but they truly were not. During the interview on Iyanla: Fix My Life, the mother and daughter sat down for a heart-to-heart talk. Marie Holmes’ mother was the one who actually picked out the numbers and went up town to buy the ticket. However, she gave her mother the money to purchase the ticket and went off to church. The hard conversation was somewhat difficult to watch.
The Truth About The Numbers
Marie Holmes’ mother, Fontella, said she picked out the numbers very carefully. On the show, she explained to her daughter that “I kept dreaming about your brother that we lost… His birthday, he was the third child, he’d have been 25 that year. Those were the numbers.” That was the first time Marie Holmes learned the truth about the winning lotto numbers. Marie Holmes said she wished she knew that sooner, but Fontella said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Anytime you buy a lottery ticket, you should automatically sign the back of it. Chances are good you probably won’t win at a multi-million dollar jackpot, but nevertheless you should still put your John Hancock on the ticket. Why? The signature proves you are the legitimate owner of the winnings. So the next time you buy one, sign it, and put it in a safe spot. After all, you can barely imagine winning much less losing a winning ticket. It would be even worse to have someone steal it and claim it as their own.
Although money clearly transformed her household accommodations, her problems were far from over. Marie Holmes not only dealt with the typical hand-me-outs, she was being sued for millions of dollars by her pastor, of all people. On top of that, she did have trouble managing the money despite some family members thinking she was grounded. At the end of it all, she did keep her children at the focus of her priorities, but that is not to say she did not have mixed feelings along the journey.
A Lot Of Drama
After the pending lawsuit, trouble seemed to follow Marie Holmes and her millions. One smart move she did make was creating the Marie Holmes Foundation and investing $10 million into it. Unfortunately, she was involved with her youngest daughter’s father, Lamarr McDow. He was a convicted drug dealer who was in and out of jail multiple times. He should have stopped his convict ways once she won the money, but instead she used it to bail him out over and over again.
She Bailed Him Out Of Jail Out Three Times
Lamarr McDow, whose nickname is “Hot Sauce,” has a child with Marie Holmes. He was first arrested for substance trafficking, and he was behind bars again for not following his trial conditions. The third arrest came after he was caught in a street race. Marie spent a whopping $21 million on helping him out, and that was just on bail money. She also treated her baby daddy with to brand new vehicle and expensive jewelry including a $15,000 Rolex.
Buying More Than His Freedom
Lamarr McDow was interviewed after news surfaced of the spending. He defended Marie Holmes as his loyal girlfriend. “We are a couple, and I am the father of her youngest child. This is what people do for each other. She has the money and she can do what she wants with it… If I had that money then I would do the same for her. People are just jealous because of how much she won and people want to see me locked in jail.”
Is He A Gold Digger?
During the revealing interview, Lamarr McDow further stated that he has been with Marie Holmes way before she was rich. He explained, “We were together for two years before she won the Powerball.” He went on to say how he even supported her, her four children, and her mother when they lived in a trailer together. Nevertheless, despite being there for the mother of his children, Lamarr McDow did admit, “When money comes, there are more problems.”
He Was Unfaithful
LaMarr McDow was supposedly unfaithful to his beloved girlfriend. You would think after the hard times they already had, it would be smooth sailing from here on out. It was until Lorna Marlowe came along claiming to be one of LaMarr McDow’s many girlfriends. The lady said her and LaMarr McDow were hooking up while he was still dating the new millionaire. How did Marie Holmes handle it? She supposedly threatened Lorna Marlowe and then offered her money to stop messing around with her man.
The interview revealed that LaMarr McDow was going to be in prison for a lengthy sentence. This caused Marie Holmes to feel quite overwhelmed. Although she is thankful for all of her blessings, she was still scared saying, ”You’re not going to be here with me and the kids. I don’t want to do it without you, but I will do it.” The fact that her own father was in and out of jail her whole life still affects Marie Holmes. It will be a new journey for her and her children to see what it is like on their own, but with a big, beautiful house this time.
What Will Happen Next?
Because of his criminal behavior, LaMarr McDow was sentenced to seven years in prison. Marie Holmes also admitted that she will wait for her boyfriend to get out of prison. They have one child together, but he also has children his from previous relationships. Marie Holmes might not be able to keep those children while he is doing time. She certainly hopes her family can be reunited as soon as possible. Even being a millionaire does not mean you have control over everything.
An expert explained how in some cases, winning the lottery can actually make life harder to enjoy: “Eventually, the thrill of winning the lottery will itself wear off… gradually even the most positive events will cease to have impact…Thus, as lottery winners become accustomed to the additional pleasures made possible by their new wealth, these pleasures should be experienced as less intense and no longer contribute…much to their general level of happiness.” This was the case for Marie as well.
The lottery is a tricky game, which has been studied by psychologists ever since it started. Studies show that people buy lottery tickets because they do not realize they really have no outcome of winning. The mind tricks them to think they truly have a chance. Even people with low income continue to gamble because it gives them a small glimpse of hope that they can escape debt and have financial freedom. That is why the lottery is so successful year after year.
Rumors About The Real Owner
Marie Holmes’ fairy tale about winning the lottery is not over just yet. There is still more to come. Next, rumors started about who really purchased the ticket. No, not her mother Fontella. This time, it was multiple extended family members claiming Marie Holmes actually lifted the ticket from her 90-year-old grandma and claimed it as her own. Several of her cousins allege this to be true, which it’s so important to sign your lottery tickets the moment you purchase them.
All In The Family
Another cousin of Marie Holmes’ went to the lengths to create a YouTube video and post it online. In the feed, she accuses Marie Holmes of having an affair with a different cousin’s husband. Well, supposedly the two-timing man left Marie Holmes alone and started fooling around with a different cousin. Marie Holmes then, according to the video, told her she would buy her a car if she stopped seeing this man. It is hard to know which facts are true or not.
Aside from all of the drama, Marie Holmes never lost sight to what was important in her life: the children. She worked multiple jobs from McDonald’s to Walmart to provide for her kids. Their names are Brayden, Charisma, Andrea, and Ebony; whose ages range from two to 10 years old. The oldest, Brayden, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which is an ongoing medical expense. Before the lottery winnings, Marie Holmes was already dedicated to her children. However, with the extra cash she could support them much more.
Marie Holmes had an on-again, off-again relationship with LaMarr McDow. They had a baby together named Ebony. However, the older three children are from Marie’s relationship with her high school sweetheart. However, since the split, their father has had little to no contact with the children. He does not even live in the same city as them. Despite having her heart broken by pretty much every man in her life, Marie Holmes continued to try her best to do what she could for her children.
Losing Their Money
Did you know that almost a third of lottery winners end up declaring bankruptcy? Multiple studies over the last several years reveal that a percentage of people end up in worse condition than before they won the big prize. Why? Because winners tend to estrange themselves from true friends and family, get wrapped up in their earnings, and eventually spend it all within a decade. In some cases, lottery winners even suffer from depression afterwards and turn to substance abuse.
All The Money In The World
During her appearance on Iyanla: Fix My Life, Marie Holmes was very open and honest about exposing her true reality including her family’s personal issues. Iyanla tried to explain, “So many people believe that if they had a certain amount of money, they’d be able to live a certain way. Marie is a prime example that if you don’t know who you are, if you don’t have a strong sense of identity and well-being, all the money in the world is not going to fix how you see yourself and how you live.”
A Relationship With Her Mother
Like many other troubled families, the show revealed the complex relationship between Marie Holmes and her mother. Marie claimed that it was hard for her to be close to her because she treated Marie and her siblings poorly throughout their childhood. Nevertheless, she must have loved her mother and thought she was changed because Marie sent her children to live with Fontella in Seattle, Washington for a period of time after winning the lottery.
Is The Lottery A Sin?
After everything that happened, some people wanted to point fingers at Marie Holmes for gambling. She considered herself to be religious, but played the lottery. According to a Christian doctrine, it is believed that, “For a Christian to have the remotest chance of winning the lottery, he has to initially buy a lottery ticket with the Lord’s money. In all likelihood he is in reality just throwing the Lord’s money out the window. Therefore, in his participation he has stolen missions money and sinned.”
Fix Her Life
Iyanla Vanzant is more than a talk show host and a TV personality. She is a relationship expert and wanted to help Marie Holmes during her life-changing experience. Unlike her pastor, Iyanla heard about Marie Holmes’ story and offered her guidance. She wanted to help her emotionally during her transition into a different tax bracket. Iyanla believed she could help Marie Holmes gain maturity, dignity, and the self-respect she needed to make positive life choices.
Find Yourself An Advisor
Every person who wins the lottery should consult with both a financial advisor and an attorney immediately. Although it does not sound very exciting, these are the two people who will truly help you along your exciting journey of wealth. Instead of going to the car dealership, talk to your advisor first. He or she will serve as a buffer between you and any stress that accumulates from the money. Your best bet is to trust financial experts in order to make the most of your winnings.