They say that winning the lottery is a one in a million chance, and even then, the odds are higher than that. Single mother Marie Holmes went against the odds and was that one person who hit the jackpot. Despite winning a whopping $188 million, was it all worth it in the end?
Marie didn’t have much luck in her life and as a single mother living in Shallotte, North Carolina, life was a struggle. She had a number of different jobs to support her and her children, but it still wasn’t enough. On a whim, she decided to purchase a lottery ticket-she wasn’t that hopeful with the odds being one in 175 million, but it was worth a shot.
The Man She Trusted Most
The only stability Holmes had in her life was attending Church, after turning to God for answers. From this, she developed a close relationship with her pastor Kevin Matthews and felt inspired by his passionate speeches about the importance of belief and faith. Matthews was well known among the residents of Shallotte and referred to himself as the “warrior of Christ.” He was the mouthpiece for his community and felt a bond to those who attended his sermons every Sunday.
Being a single mother to one child is hard enough, but Marie had four children and minimal financial support. She had to keep a brave face on for the sake of her children. With no where to turn, Marie decided to buy a lottery ticket as a last resort, she figured that she wouldn’t lose anything if she lost, but if she won, it could change her life. Marie believed that one day God would be on her side and things would look up, perhaps this was it?
The fateful day of the lottery came and Marie sat watching the numbers roll out in hope of winning some money. As she matched every number one by one, she was shaking, and her heart was racing in disbelief. As the last numbers were read out, Holmes realized she had hit the jackpot and swept a staggering $188 million. It is no surprise that Marie was dumbfounded at what had just happened, but with only 180 days to cash her prize, she had to make some moves.
Collecting The Cash
There were a lot of big decisions to make that came along with her win. She had to be decisive and choose whether to receive installments of the $188 million prize over 30-years or take the lump sum of $127 million after deducting taxes. Despite some of her prize money being taken away, she had still claimed a staggering amount and it was overwhelming for the single mother of four. She needed the money for her family and chose to take the lump sum.
Out Of Body Experience
Marie literally went from rags to riches and the prospect of becoming a multi-millionaire over night was incredibly daunting. Marie stood waiting for her massive cheque with butterflies in her stomach and excited for what her future had in store. She thought about her past struggles and how things were starting to turn around. Holmes explained her anticipation, saying “I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I saw the ticket and checked it.” However, there were more twists to come.
Finally Coming Clean
One difficult decision all jackpot lottery winners have to make is whether to stay anonymous, or reveal her identity to the eager media and public. There was a lot to consider, would she put herself at risk of being contacted by strangers if she exposed all or would she give others inspiration about her story? Marie finally decided to confess and when the media approached her, she answered questions truthfully and carefully, insisting that no amount of money would change her.
A Grounded Individual
With all the media attention surrounding the big win, people close to Marie were interviewed to get their take on the incredible story. Her uncle told the press, “Marie is very grounded and she will know what to do with all that money.” It was clear that those around her were confident that Marie was a grounded woman with a strong head on her shoulders. They knew she would use the money to help her family as well as giving a large donation to her Church.
“It Is All For Them”
As expected, the first people who benefitted from Marie’s lottery jackpot were her four children. Previously, Marie struggled in giving them a stable life, but now everything was available to them. She added: “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.”
Father Of Her Child
This struggle that Marie was referring to was so much more than financial hardships. Marie had been going through a hard time as the father of children was constantly having run-ins with the law and was often in and out of prison. Therefore, the stability in her life came from her Church and she was insistent that she wanted to return the favor by giving them a portion of her winnings. After all, pastor Kevin Matthews had been a father figure to Marie.
Pastor Matthews did not just give Marie hope from the teachings in the bible, he would talk to her about her life, counseled her through troubles with her partner, helped her with her children and promised her that the Church would always be there for her. It was a no brainer for Marie and she didn’t hesitate in calling pastor Matthews and informing him that she would be donating 10% of her winnings to Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church.
Show Me The Money
With a number of cash deductions, the 10% that was donated to the Church ended up being closer to $1.5 million. Nevertheless, this cash donation for the religious establishment was unheard of and it would go far for in terms of helping the needy and making great improvements to the Church. In addition, the large amount of money donated was amongst the biggest contribution made to a public Church from a lottery win. Up until’s Marie’s donation, the greatest sum given was $100,000, in Boston.
A Very Merry Christmas
In fact, the lottery winner in Boston’s Church donation was sufficient to provide a large Christmas dinner for the congregation, so it could only be imagined what Marie’s $1.5 million donation would do for the community. Marie was one of those lottery winners who did not use her new fortune on materialistic luxuries, but was thoughtful about how to use her money, and first and foremost, wanted to thank those who helped her. However, she was blindsided by the events that would unfold.
Spit In The Face
Many people would expect a Church to be bowled over with appreciation, but this was not the reaction of pastor Kevin Matthews. Instead, the pastor saw the $1.5 million as an insult. He knew that Marie had won $127 million and thought that giving away just $1.5 to the place that acted as a home to her was a meagre gesture. Things got worse as the pastor insisted that Marie verbally pledged to give $10 million, and as a result, he sued her for this amount of money.
Simply Not Enough
After allegedly having a conversation in which a verbal agreement was made to receive 10% of the money, the pastor went ahead and made financial investments based on the monetary acquisition. Marie has already given Matthews a sum of $700,000, and he was awaiting the rest of the money. However, when Matthews was made aware that he wouldn’t be getting the 10% that he expected, he was furious and thought Marie should stick to her promise in the business deal.
Matthews went off the record and told reporters, “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.” He added, “I didn’t see this coming and I think it was a third party that came along and told her not to do this.” Holmes was shocked at the reaction of her pastor and never expected this behavior from a person of faith.
The greed that the pastor displayed off the back of Holmes’ lottery win was not just astonishing for Marie, but also for the community. How could someone who taught them to love and respect one another act in such a manner? People began thinking of him in a completely different light. Matthews tried to defend himself by claiming “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.”
In addition, Matthews asserted: “I really feel like a warrior for Christ and people need to be accountable.” Matthews wanted to make the point that promises are not made to be broken, but he was going about making his concerns known in the worst possible way. Moreover, things got worse for Marie once she used a portion of her winnings to buy a large home on a big plot of land. As it turned out, the property was previously a slave plantation, filled with negative energy.
The Truth Will Set You Free
The media attention was rife and Maria’s mother, Fontella, was interviewed on Iyanla: Fix My Life, along with Marie and stunned everyone with a secret. It was then revealed that Fontella was the one who purchased the lottery ticket for her daughter, even choosing all the numbers. Marie was unaware and thought her mom chose the numbers at random, which made for a huge twist. Marie did however pay for the ticket herself.
All About The Numbers
In the interview, Fontella revealed “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.” Consequently, Marie’s lottery numbers had originated from an incredibly tragic loss that the family dealt with. The raw moment was heart-wrenching and Marie weeped as she wished she’d known about it sooner. Nonetheless, Fontella insisted that it was the way it was meant to be.
First Things First
There is much more to buying and keeping a lottery ticket that one would imagine. Of course, the worst case scenario would be to lose a winning ticket, but next would be to have a winning ticket taken away from you. This situation can happen when someone does not sign their name on the back of a ticket to confirm that it is in fact, theirs. With a huge amount of money at stake, it is crucial to prove legitimacy.
Single Mother Versus Pastor
In Shallotte, pastor Matthews was considered a righteous man and a local leader. He would often care for the needy and would be there for anyone who needed advice, regardless of what it was. In addition, Marie was known within the community for attending Church with her four children every Sunday. She was a kind soul and held her faith in high regard. However, the malicious events which unfolded implemented many in the community to judge Matthews.
Love Of Her Life
Marie made the conscious decision to invest $10 million into her charitable organization named the Marie Holmes Foundation. However, there was some negativity surrounding her spending, not only was she slapped with a lawsuit from the pastor, Marie was in love with her youngest child’s father, Lamarr McDow who was a convicted felon. Marie consistently used her money to post his bail out of prison after his many run-ins with the law for selling illegal substances.
Third Time’s The Charm
Marie couldn’t help who she fell in love with, but McDow was anything but a decent choice for a partner. Lamarr’s nickname was “Hot Sauce,” and he was initially arrested for selling illegal substances before returning to jail for the second time for breaking trial conditions. Moreover, Lamarr was put in jail for the third time for street racing, but instead of punishing her man, Marie spent a staggering $21 million on him, buying him new cars and jewelry, including a $15,000 Rolex.
Put Behind Bars
Many thought that Marie was being taken advantage of by Lamarr, but he hit back at criticism saying, “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.”
Lamarr knew that he had developed a reputation for being a gold digger and only staying with Marie for her money. However, the convicted felon wasn’t going to accept that perception and insisted that money had nothing to do with his love for Marie. He said, “We were together for two years before she won the Powerball,” however, he gave further insight and added, “when money comes, there are more problems.” Nevertheless, he did not elaborate on his revealing comment.
Once A Cheater, Always A Cheater
The complicated nature of Marie relationship with Lamarr drew much attention, and one person who was directly affected by it was a woman named Lorna Marlowe. While the events were unfolding, Lorna decided to confess that whilst Marie and Lamarr were together, she was having some action from the felon on the sly. Marie was understandably devastated when the truth came out and warned her to stay away from Lamarr. However, this didn’t work until Marie coughed up some bribe money.
Can’t Move On
Lamarr and Marie’s love hit another roadblock when his affinity for breaking the law came to head and a jury decided to give him a long sentence in jail. Marie was beside herself upon hearing the news and she realized that money wasn’t enough. She couldn’t help but be saddened for her children, she said, “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.”
I’ll Be There For You
Lamarr was given a lengthy sentence of seven years in prison, and this time, Marie could not give any amount of money to get him out of serving time. Nevertheless, Marie admitted that she would wait for the love of her life once he had finished his sentence. Marie learned the hard way that money wasn’t going to solve all of the problems in her life, and she found it hard to deal with this harsh reality.
Thrill Wears Off
Marie thought that winning the lottery was the beginning of a new, happy life, she was wrong. One expert insisted that winning the lottery can be sorrow in disguise, explaining, “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.”
However, millions of people do not see the problems that becoming a millionaire overnight can present. The lottery gives people hope that one day, they can live a life of luxury without stress or money worries. Due to the fact that millions share this dream, 99% of lottery players will come out of it empty handed, and essentially out of pocket having bought tickets. Nevertheless, many people see it as an investment and the risk is worth it. Marie was one person who saw those problems.
Betrayed By Her Family
Money can bring out the worst in people and this was inherently true in Marie’s case. Not only had her pastor and convicted lover tried to gain from her win, but her family members did too. Upon winning the $127 million, Marie’s extended family members put the mother of four on blast and claimed that Marie had stolen the winning ticket from her 90-year-old grandmother. To make matters worse, many other family members echoed these remarks.
It’s All Relative
That wasn’t the end for Marie, she was also targeted by another distant cousin who took to YouTube to expose the lottery winner. In a video, she claimed that Marie was untrustworthy and she had a secret tryst with one of her cousin’s husbands, which was all kept quiet until that husband went off with a different cousin. Upon finding out, Marie was said to have lost it and once again, bribed the other cousin with a brand new car to end the affair.
Her Kid Is Sick
Above all the money and drama that came with it, the most important thing in Marie’s life was her four children, Brayden, Charisma, Andrea, and Ebony. Before money became no object for the millionaire, she was working a number of different jobs to support her family and would give them whatever she could afford. Things were harder due to the fact her eldest Brayden was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth. This medical condition was particularly costly and Marie couldn’t afford the upkeep previously.
First Cut Is The Deepest
Marie’s youngest child’s father was Lamarr, but the rest of the children were born to a different father. He was Marie’s former love and her high school sweetheart and took an active role in her life and when the children were young. However, things took a turn and he left Marie alone to care for their children, blocking all contact with them and moving to a different city. Marie had to learn to fend for herself and her children.
Winning Isn’t Everything
Statistics have proven that almost a third of lottery winners are forced to declare bankruptcy following their big win. Becoming a multi-millionaire overnight can be incredibly overwhelming for those people who had previously struggled in supporting themselves, leading them to go on mass spending sprees and buying everything they could never have afforded previously. To make matters worse, plenty of winners have cut all ties with their friends and family having become consumed by their fortune.
Not Uncommon At All
While on the Iyanla: Fix My Life show, Marie was told that her family disputes were not something out of the ordinary, explaining, “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.”
Like Mother, Like Daughter
There were plenty of disputes in Marie’s family following the acquisition of her money, but one person who stayed close was her mother, Fontella. Marie even sent her four children to live with her mother while she had to go through the bureaucratic procedures that came with winning the lottery. This was surprising due to the fact Marie admitted that her mother was relatively absent and cold during her childhood. However, the two managed to put everything behind them.
Gambling Is A Sin
One question that arose was the fact that Marie was supposed to be a religious Christian, but she gambled by playing the lottery, something that is not accepted. Christian doctrine states, “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.”
I Will Try To Fix You
When inspiration speaker Iyanla Vanzant found out about Marie’s story, she became interested and invited her on her show. She felt compelled to help Marie after hearing the struggles she was going through, and was saddened how her pastor had treated her. On Iyanla’s show, the life coach tried to explain the importance of being humble, mature and dignified throughout the whole process. She wanted Marie to stand up strong above those who tried to tear her down.
Precautions For The Future
It is safe to say that Marie Holmes went through a tough journey after winning the lottery, which is something she never expected to happen. However, many of her issues could have been avoided if she sought the advice of an attorney as well as a financial advisor, showing her wise ways to invest her money. Nevertheless, going through this journey allowed Marie to see the true colors of those around her, which taught her some invaluable life lessons.