Winning the lottery is a dream come true for a lot of people who consider cash flow to be their number one problem. Single mother Marie Holmes was one of those people – but having known what she does now, after winning $188 million, would she have still bought that ticket?
From Shallotte, North Carolina, Marie lead a life of poverty and constant struggle. When she decided to purchase a lottery ticket, she knew her chances of winning a jackpot was one in 175 million, but that statistic wasn’t about to stop her.
The Man She Trusted Most
Kevin Matthews was Holmes’s pastor, as well as the rest of the good residents of Shallotte, North Carolina. Having grown up in tough surroundings, Holmes made a habit of attending Matthews’ church on a frequent basis, and turned to God many times in her life when she felt lost. She found comfort in her pastor, who often referred to himself as a “warrior of Christ,” and spoke passionately of doing great things for his church and promising to remember those who attended every Sunday.
Being a single mother of four with little to no financial support, Marie was feeling rather desperate and was on the verge of losing hope when suddenly, the idea of buying a lottery ticket came to mind. She was a firm believer in God and being religious was a way of living, which is why she believed that despite the slim chances of winning, her faith could be strong enough to tilt things for her benefit.
Yet still, when the winning numbers on TV matched the ticket she was holding in her hand, she was in disbelief. Marie Holmes won a $188 million Powerball jackpot, and she was utterly stunned. Only later did Marie reveal that she was in shock from her winnings and felt clueless. However stunned she must have been, Marie had to snap out of it pretty fast, since lottery laws state winners have a maximum of 180 days to claim their prize.
Collecting The Cash
Not only did Marie have a 180-day limit to claim her prize, but she also had to decided if she would receive installments of her $188 million over a period of 30 years, or take a reduced sum of $127 million all at once. Much like others before her, Marie understood that while it meant having to let go of a few tens of millions, she needed that money sooner than later. For that reason, she collected her money on the spot.
Out Of Body Experience
From living in poverty to becoming a multi-millionaire, this was a big transition for humble Marie who felt surreal while waiting for someone to bring her the oversized cheque. She stood there all smiles, but was screaming on the inside: “I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I saw the ticket and checked it,” she explained in an interview she gave. However happy she might have felt at that moment, Marie was about to find out what the winning truly meant.
Finally Coming Clean
Marie had one more decision she had to make – if she wanted to stay anonymous, or set the truth free by revealing that it was, in fact, her who had won the astounding sum. She thought long and hard of the consequences of telling all of her winnings, but after weighing out her options, Marie decided to come clean. Marie did, however, feel the need to repeat the fact that no matter what, the money will not change her or her way of living.
A Grounded Individual
Marie’s uncle was the first one to vouch for his kind niece, claiming that “Marie is very grounded and she will know what to do with all that money.” Those who knew her well were confident that a standup gal like herself would use the money for rational things, such as to buy herself and her children a home as well as donate to what she believes in, like her local church. Going on a guilt-free shopping spree was the last thing on Marie’s mind.
“It Is All For Them”
Marie wanted her children to be taken care of first and foremost. With this astounding sum of money, Marie was finally able to promise her children the life she could never afford. “Everything is all for them,” she said on one occasion. “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
Referring to “the struggle,” Holmes was not only discussing her financial matters. As it turns out, her children’s father had been in and out of prison several times. But as far as she was concerned, there was only one obvious choice after her children when it came to picking the money recipients, and that was her local church. After all, Kevin Matthews, her pastor, was someone she considered to be a close friend of hers, since he always stuck by her through hard times.
Pastor Matthews gave Marie the impression that he would always be there for her, no matter what. He often gave her advice and counseled her about various matters, in order to help set her life on the right path. Marie, in return, never forgot the man who held her hand through faith and guided her through many life-altering decisions, which is why she called the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church and told pastor Matthews that she had every intention of donating 10% of her winnings to his establishment.
Show Me The Money
After several reductions and payments that were given over time, the church received a sum closer to $1.5 million. With that kind of cold hard cash, the church could do great things for its community. It is also important to mention that this sum was the highest contributed to ever be made to a church. Up until then, the biggest amount of money that was provided to the religious institutes was $100,000, which was also provided by a lottery winner from Boston.
A Very Merry Christmas
The Boston winner’s donation was large enough to provide for a varied and delicious Christmas Eve dinner, so it doesn’t take much to comprehend just how much could be done with $1.5 million. Having her life completely changed overnight did not cause Marie to turn back on those who were there for her at her times of need, but rather made her understand who really had the best intentions at heart. She didn’t know what she would do with the rest of the money, but never would have anticipated what happened next.
Spit In The Face
One would think any pastor in his right mind would be appreciative of such large amount of money being thrown their way, but not Kevin Matthews. No, the pastor of the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church perceived the hefty donation of $1.5 million as a spit in the face. Matthews was greedy for more, claiming Marie had promised verbally that she would donate $10 million, and not $1.5 million. In order to receive the sum he thought he deserved, Matthews sued Holmes for $10 million.
Simply Not Enough
Marie had already given her pastor $700,000, so he had no reason of suspecting he wouldn’t receive the rest of it. However, Pastor Matthews was relentless in receiving the 10% he was allegedly promised, claiming that their verbal deal was something he relied on and consequently had made serious financial decisions regarding her promise. The pastor claimed to had already made financial contributions based on the sum he thought he was promised, and just like any other business deal, Marie should hold her end of the bargain.
“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,” said pastor Matthews in an interview he gave while discussing 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, on the other hand, could not be more surprised of the way Matthews reacted.
The lottery episode caused the townspeople to question pastor Matthews’ code of ethics, which was also brought up in national news. People who felt the need to express their thoughts on the matter posted their opinions on social media, and the pastor was not perceived in a positive light. Matthews picked up where he left off and said, “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 really feel like a warrior for Christ and people need to be accountable.” Matthews might have had a point concerning how one should not go back on their word, but people also have the right to change their mind, especially when it comes to handling their own finances. As promised, Marie used a significant amount of her winnings to purchase a house – but unfortunately regretted her decision, as it turned out it was a slave plantation property that was filled with negative energy.
The Truth Will Set You Free
Marie’s mother, Fontella, went on the show Iyanla: Fix My Life along with her daughter and revealed a crucial detail that made Marie burst into tears. As it turns out, Fontella was actually the one who had bought the winning lottery ticket for her daughter and carefully selected the numbers. Up until that interview, Marie was convinced her mom had picked the numbers at random, but she was wrong. However, it was Marie who gave her mother the money to purchase the ticket.
All About The Numbers
Fontella revealed 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.” This was the first time Marie learned what really caused her to win hundreds of millions of dollars, and the heart-to-heart conversation the two had on camera was slightly hard to watch. Although Marie struggled with the news and said she wished she knew the truth sooner, Fontella said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
First Things First
The worst thing imaginable to those winning the lottery is losing their ticket. Even those who were cautious enough to keep the piece of paper that could change their lives in a safe place are not 100% safe, since others could claim you have stolen the ticket from them. It is for that reason that when buying a lottery ticket, one should sign the back of it. In fact, that is the first thing anyone should do, since the signature proves you are the legitimate owner of the ticket.
Single Mother Versus Pastor
It was hard not to be a fan of pastor Matthews, who was Shallotte’s local leader for quite some time. The small North Carolina town perceived Matthews to be a righteous man, one who cared more about helping others than himself. Marie was a kind person, too. Those who knew her would even testify to the fact she was generous and God-fearing, but the fact that she had four children to support on her own put things in a different perspective. For that reason, Matthews was beginning to be critically judged by his community.
Love Of Her Life
The pending lawsuit was not the only form of trouble that chased Marie around. While she did act wisely and invested $10 million into a foundation she created, the Marie Holmes Foundation, her money was not always cautiously spent. Love struck hard for the single mother who remained in touch with her youngest daughter’s father, notorious Lamarr McDow. Marie used a significant amount of her money to bail Lamarr several times out of prison, since he was a convicted felon who was put in jail multiple times for selling illegal substances.
Third Time’s The Charm
They say love makes you blind, but poor Marie had lost more than her sight of what is real when dealing with Lamarr, who was nicknamed “Hot Sauce.” The man was first arrested for selling illegal substances, then was put behind bars for the second time for breaking his trial conditions. The third time he was put away was for street racing, causing Marie to spend a whopping $21 million on helping her man out. “Hot Sauce” was also given a sparkling new car and showy jewelry, including a $15,000 Rolex.
Put Behind Bars
Lamarr was judged severely but many thought the convicted felon was taking advantage of his loyal girlfriend, to which he responded by 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 wanted to protect his name and reputation – there was no way he was going to be labeled a gold digger, so he put up a fight. During one interview, Lamarr explained that money had nothing to do with his reason for being romantically linked with Marie: “We were together for two years before she won the Powerball,” he said. However, the man did confess that despite the fact he was fully committed to the mother of his child, “when money comes, there are more problems.”
Once A Cheater, Always A Cheater
As it turned out, Lamarr was not far off from the truth when he stated money brings trouble. One envious woman called Lorna Marlowe could not handle all the attention Lamarr and Marie were receiving for their affair, so she came forward and confessed that while Lamarr was dating Marie, he was enjoying a little side action from her. Hearing of this, Marie threatened Lorna and demanded she would stay away from the father of her child, and when that failed, she offered her money to step aside.
Can’t Move On
Lamarr may have sinned with infidelity, but it was his questionable actions that made the jury decide to put him away for a long time. Marie was heartbroken hearing her lover was not going to be there for the kids and herself, but she had to pick herself up and move on. She was quoted 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.”
I’ll Be There For You
Seven years in prison was the sentence imposed on Lamarr, who was lucky enough to have a strong woman like Marie stand by him and openly state she will wait until he is done serving the time he owed to the state. Marie had learned the hard way that having money and becoming a millionaire overnight, while it may make up for a lot of other issues, cannot solve everything in life. All that’s left for her to do now is wait patiently.
Thrill Wears Off
Marie was delighted the day she learned she won the astounding amount of money, but one expert explained best why some blessings are sorrows in disguise: “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.”
The reason the lottery has enormous success every year, with no exception, is because it grants people little hope that they might be that one in a million to win the jackpot. Despite the fact there is a higher chance of coming out empty handed, their minds play tricks and convince them a small, risky investment is worth the unlikely chance of relieving themselves of financial debt. Marie was fortunate enough to beat the odds, but unfortunate when it came to handling the trouble that soon followed.
Betrayed By Her Family
Marie Holmes’ pastor and convicted lover were not the only two people who tried to slice themselves a piece of her winnings. In fact, the only thing this far-from-fairytale plot is missing is the ultimate betrayal – which arrived at her doorstep when she least expected it. Marie’s extended family members claimed Marie wasn’t the one who purchased the winning lottery ticket but actually snatched it from her 90-year-old grandmother. Several of Marie’s cousins claimed this was true.
It’s All Relative
Another cousin who was not happy with the spotlight being on Marie took her frustration out to YouTube, where she posted a video claiming Marie was not a woman to be trusted. According to her story, Marie fooled around with another cousin’s husband and kept the affair a secret – that is, until that same husband started hooking up with a different cousin, and Marie turned green with jealousy. Marie allegedly offered the other cousin that she would buy her a car if she stopped seeing the man.
Her Kid Is Sick
Brayden, Charisma, Andrea, and Ebony are all Marie Holmes cares about – her children, who always were and forever will be her top priority. Before she won the lottery and purchased the ticket that changed her life, Marie worked at several jobs, most of the time simultaneously, ranging from McDonald’s to Walmart. Her oldest child, Brayden, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was born, which is a medical condition with costly bills that Marie had a hard time paying off. Thankfully, now money is no longer an issue.
First Cut Is The Deepest
While her youngest girl, Ebony, was brought to the world with Marie’s current boyfriend, Lamarr, her other three children had a different father. The man who took a highly active role in her life before her latest beau was Marie’s former love and high school sweetheart. Unfortunately, the man has little to no contact with his children, seeing as how he does not live in the same city as his offspring. Still, Marie is a strong, independent woman, so she learned how to make it on her own.
Winning Isn’t Everything
Studies have shown that nearly a third of lottery winners wind up declaring bankruptcy, since coming to a state of having plenty of money confuses those who were formerly having trouble making ends meet. Taking into consideration that most of the winners do not know how to handle their finances appropriately, it is easy to understand why they end up spending it all within a decade. Additionally, winners do have a tendency to estrange themselves from the friends and family in the process, since they become wrapped up in their winnings.
Not Uncommon At All
On Iyanla: Fix My Life, Iyanla explained to torn up Marie Holmes why her family’s personal issues were not uncommon: “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
Despite the whole debacle caused by the confusion as to who the lottery money should have gone to, Marie and her mother remained close. In fact, Marie even sent her kids to live with her mother, Fontella, in Seattle, Washington while she sorted the bureaucratic procedures that needed to be dealt with after winning the lottery. This was in spite of Marie unveiling the fact her mother was not the warmest or most understanding towards her siblings and herself while they were growing up.
Gambling Is A Sin
Another issue that was brought up was the fact that, while Marie claimed to be a religious person, she was, in fact, a gambler. Christian doctrine clearly states 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.”
I Will Try To Fix You
Having a successful show has not affected Iyanla Vanzant for the worse. Unlike Marie Holmes’ pastor, she had heard about Marie coming to new money and took interest in the fiasco that followed. It was then that she felt she could wholeheartedly help the woman who had been betrayed by so many others in her life, which is why she had her come on the show. Iyanla stressed the importance of maturity and dignity, in the hope that it would help Marie see the light.
Precautions For The Future
For all of the reasons that were stated and the catastrophes and betrayal that Marie Holmes had to go through, it cannot be stressed enough why seeing a financial advisor and consulting an attorney is so crucial when winning the lottery. While some might disappoint you in life and reveal their true faces in times you least expected, it is important to brush the dust off your clothes and appreciate the fact you now know who is trustworthy in your life – and what really matters.