This Single Mother Won $188 Million, But Then Things Rapidly Went South

Marie Holmes was just 26-years-old when she won the lottery and scored $188 million! As a single mother of four, the money couldn’t have come at a better time. As she quickly learned, more money can also mean more problems. Between family rivalries, lawsuits, and fame, Marie’s journey since her big win hasn’t been a walk in the park.

A Single Mother Of Four

lotto-winner
Facebook
Facebook

At just 26-years-old, Marie Holmes was a single mother of four. She worked two jobs to support her family: one at McDonald’s and the other at Walmart. As difficult as it was to raise that many kids and work so much, things become even more challenging for her.

One of Marie’s children was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The child’s needs would make it impossible for Marie to hold on to both jobs and be there for him.

Playing The Lottery

Lottery will become more expensive
Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images
Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images

Forced to quit her job, Marie was struggling to get by. If anyone ever needed a lottery ticket, it was her. The North Carolina Powerball had reached $564 million, an offer too tempting to pass up.

Though Marie didn’t really even have a few bucks to spare, she decided to buy a ticket. After picking up the lotto ticket from the local gas station, Marie headed home. It was at her trailer park that her life changed.

The Winning Ticket!

lotto-winner-2
@Thagalu/Twitter
@Thagalu/Twitter

Even though the odds of winning the lottery are very slim, there’s something exciting about reading those numbers. There’s a rush as you start to wonder if you’ve won. For Marie, that thrill nearly gave her a heart attack.

That’s because as she looked at the numbers, she realized she had won! At 26-years-old, Marie’s life was about to change forever. She had won millions of dollars! Little did Marie know, she wasn’t the only one.

$188 Million In Winnings

lottery-marie-holmes
OWN
OWN

It turns out that Marie wasn’t the only one who got the thrill of her life that day. Two other people also had winning lottery numbers. That meant that Marie would share the jackpot with the other winners three ways.

Each winner still got an enormous amount of money, but before they could collect their prize, they had to follow a process. They would have to prove they won and allow for a processing period.

Two Options For Payment

cash
ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images
ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images

Once lottery players are verified as winners, they have to decide between taking the lump sum amount or getting installments of money over 30 years. While taking all of the money can be helpful for investments, installments help ensure that the huge fortune lasts.

The other catch is that the lump sum amount isn’t as much money. Still, with proper investing, the option could end up being even more than the installments with the full amount.

Taking The Lump Sum

lotto-winner-5
@RebeckaLustre/Twitter
@RebeckaLustre/Twitter

Marie decided to go with the lump sum option, which came out to $127 million after reductions. The fortune was still enormous, but there was one other thing to be taken out: taxes.

The state alone would take almost 6% of Marie’s winnings, and the federal government would take around 30%, depending on which tax bracket she fell into. Still, Marie was getting the financial handout of a lifetime. Taxes could take 99% of it, and it would still be life-changing.

Wanting A Better Life For Her Kids

playing-with-kids
JOEY MCLEISTER/Star Tribune via Getty Images
JOEY MCLEISTER/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Having worked two jobs to single-handedly take care of her family, Marie knew how hard it can be to make a living. She was a humble winner, stating that she wanted to donate some of her winnings.

Of course, the first thing on Marie’s mind was her children. She told NBC, “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.”

Trying To Stay Grounded

lotto-winner-3
Pinterest
Pinterest

Taking the lump sum could be a risky choice. Most people don’t have any experience handling that much money, so winning it all at once can be new territory.

Though Marie didn’t want the fortune to change who she was as a person, she would need to learn how to handle it. Anyone who knows money knows how quickly even a large lottery win can evaporate. Hiring a financial expert right away is usually a good idea.

Bailing Out Her Boyfriend

lamar-1
Pinterest
Pinterest

While getting a financial advisor would be a smart choice, Marie had some more pressing matters to handle first. One pressing issue was her boyfriend, who was in jail for substance charges.

Right off the bat, Marie paid $3 million to get her boyfriend, Lamar McDow, out of jail. Months later, Lamar again landed in jail, and this time Marie paid $6 million to get him out. Lamar got arrested a third time, and Marie paid $12 million for his bond!

A New House

house
OWN
OWN

Lamarr denies the claim that Marie spent $21 million on his bail, stating it was a fraction of that. Either way, Marie spent more than she did on her first home, which was $350,000.

After taxes and all, Marie had $88 million to her name. Even with a hefty amount spent on Lamarr, she still had plenty of cash for other things that mattered. Marie would be able to do so much for her family.

One Big Family

Sarah Medina/Unsplash
Sarah Medina/Unsplash

Marie and Lamarr had lived together in her trailer home, so he naturally moved into the new house. The couple shares a child, and Marie’s fortune had reunited the family.

While some were critical of Marie’s financial choices, Lamarr stood up for the decision. He told the Daily Mail, “We are a couple, and I am the father of her youngest child. This is what people do for each other.” Lamarr added that he would do the same for her.

Lavish Gifts For Lamar

rolex
Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images
Mindy Small/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Marie did more than bail Lamarr out of jail and give him a place to stay. She also bought him a diamond-encrusted Rolex valued at $15,000! Even more profound, Marie gave Lamarr the funds he needed to start an auto repair business.

Lamarr wasn’t the only one who expected something from Marie. Since her lottery win was hugely publicized, all of her family and friends knew about it. Some started asking for their slice of the jackpot pie.

Neighbors Didn’t Approve

Neighbors Meet At Sidewalk During Coronavirus
Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images
Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Marie and Lamarr hadn’t come from a privileged background, so when they moved to an upper-class neighborhood, there was an immediate clash. Neighbors didn’t seem to approve of the couple.

One neighbor went so far as to put up a security camera that faced Marie’s house. Lamarr told the Daily Mail, “If I was driving down the road and going at the speed limit, they would wave at me for going too fast. They did not want us there.”

Donating Her Money To Church

church
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

As confusing as it was to know where to put her money, there was one financial commitment that Marie was sure about. She had grown up going to Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, so tithing was an important thing for Marie.

She decided to commit 10% of her winnings to charity. She started off by donating $700,000 to the church. The much-needed money went toward repairs that the building had desperately needed.

An Eager Pastor

pastor
Pinterest
Pinterest

Marie got the attention of a pastor not affiliated with her church, Kevin Matthews, who claims that he was divinely led to her. The pastor soon became a part of Marie’s inner circle, coming over to the house to provide personalized sessions.

Pastor Kevin was also there to encourage Lamarr to make better life decisions, or so they thought. Eventually, the pastor asked Marie for $1.5 million to go toward a retreat. He later claimed that Marie had verbally agreed.

Disagreements Led To A Lawsuit

House Rules Committee Meets To Formulate Rules On Impeaching President Trump
Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images
ClassicStock/Getty Images

Pastor Kevin ended up paying for the retreat himself but claimed that Marie was still responsible for the amount she allegedly agreed to pay him. He ended up publically stating that he would sue Marie.

He wasn’t just suing for $1.5 million, though. Pastor Kevin felt entitled to $10 million, which is a little more than 10% of the money Marie won after all of the deductions. Things got even more complicated when Pastor Kevin provided a phone call recording.

A Recorded Phone Call With Marie’s Accountant

pexels-tima-miroshnichenko-5708217
Pexels / ima-miroshnichenko
Pexels / ima-miroshnichenko

Pastor Kevin stated that he’d had a phone conversation with Marie’s accountant, Dexter Perry. EURweb claimed to have listened to the recorded conversation and confirmed the pastor’s story.

They even quoted Perry saying, ” I definitely understand the urgency in terms of your land purchase and people calling you,” referring to the land Kevin bought for the retreat. The pastor stated in an interview with EURweb that he felt someone had changed Marie’s mind about the offer.

Emotional Distress

pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3783138
Pexels / Andrea Piacquadio
Pexels / Andrea Piacquadio

Pastor Kevin told EURweb that Marie’s aunt, Carmel Wheaton, had confronted him and stated they were no longer interested in funding his retreat. Similarly, he claimed that Lamar chimed in to say that since the agreement wasn’t in writing, the pastor should let it go.

Pastor Kevin told EURweb, “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.”

The Public Took Marie’s Side

upset-woman
Dave Etheridge-Barnes/Getty Images
Dave Etheridge-Barnes/Getty Images

Whether or not the verbal agreement would hold up in court was one thing, but the public had already made up their mind. Those who followed the story didn’t seem to believe that the pastor was owed the money.

One YouTuber went so far as to publish a string of videos criticizing Pastor Kevin. Lawyers may have been wary of this, because the lawsuit didn’t seem to go anywhere. The pastor wouldn’t even provide the name of his attorney.

A Video Caused More Of A Stir

anonymous-video
Jamieon Riggins/YouTube
Jamieon Riggins/YouTube

As Pastor Kevin started to fade out of Marie’s life, it seemed that things may be returning to normal. That all changed when a video surfaced of a woman named Lorna Marlowe claiming that Lamar was being unfaithful to Marie.

Even worse, Lorna stated that Lamar was taking Marie’s money and giving it directly to some of the other women in his life! Getting that news was one thing, but having it out in the public was another.

Seeking Help From An Expert

iyanla-fix-my-life
OWN
OWN

After all the media attention and money complications Marie had faced, she knew it was time to seek some help. She decided to go on the Oprah Winfrey Network show Iyanla, Fix My Life.

The show consists of life coach Iyanla Vanzant digging deep into people’s lives to help them overcome personal struggles. Iyanla is also a best-selling author, a motivational speaker, and a relationship expert. She seemed like the perfect person to help Marie.

Marie’s Mother Revealed A Secret

marie-holmes-mother
OWN
OWN

One thing that Iyanla encourages on her show is for the truth to come out into the open. That’s what happened when the life coach brought Marie’s mother, Fontella, into an episode.

Fontella revealed that she had been the one who picked the lottery numbers. She based the numbers on Marie’s late brother, who she kept dreaming about. Somehow, Fontella was able to pick the numbers while letting Marie think they were random.

Wanting A Better Life For Her Daughter

winning-lotto-ticket
OWN
OWN

Since Fontella was the one who decided on the numbers, it technically could have been her lottery win. However, she kept it a secret so that Marie would believe it was her random win.

In the touching episode, Fontella revealed that she would do it all over again and that she made the sacrifice so that Marie could be a better mom than she was. Though their relationship had a rocky past, the act of love spoke volumes.

Unhappy Relatives

marie-holmes
OWN
OWN

While the moment between Marie and Fontella may have seemed like a fairytale ending, it quickly went south. Some of Marie’s relatives had seen the public conversation, and it led to speculation and accusations.

Some family members believed that the lottery win wasn’t Marie’s after all, but rightfully belonged instead to Fontella. Even though Fontella had stated she wanted the money to go to Marie, some accused the winner of stealing the ticket from her mother.

Lamarr Was Prison-Bound Again

prison
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

During Marie’s appearance on Iyana, Fix My Life, the lottery winner got another piece of unfortunate news. Lamarr was going back to prison, this time for several years. It was yet another substance-related charge, but Marie wouldn’t be bailing him out again.

After all that Marie had done for Lamarr, he still did not change his ways. It was time for Marie to put her efforts elsewhere. She decided to hone in on the promise she’d made.

The Marie Holmes Foundation

shaking-hands
Cytonn Photography/Unsplash
Cytonn Photography/Unsplash

Now that Marie didn’t have to pay millions to Pastor Kevin or put it toward bailing out Lamarr, she could decide what she wants to do with her money. She still wanted to tithe 10%, but the question was how she would go about doing it.

The lottery winner decided to spend $9.7 million to establish The Marie Holmes Foundation, which largely helps underprivileged children. Her foundation hosts events to support those in need like Marie once was.

Coming Full Circle

Etty Fidele/Unsplash
Etty Fidele/Unsplash

The Marie Holmes Foundation was the epitome of Marie coming full circle and giving back to those she can so relate to. She uses the foundation as a vehicle to host giveaways for school supplies and toys, especially around the holidays.

While winning the lottery brought on some challenging times, being able to help families like her own makes it all worth it. Marie managed to help others in a way that’s personally dear to her heart.

Another Lawsuit!

lotto-winner-4
Pinterest
Pinterest

After Lamarr went back to prison, enough had been enough. He and Marie officially split, but now he was coming back to haunt her. Years later, Lamarr filed a lawsuit against Marie!

The very man who was defending Marie in the face of a lawsuit from Pastor Kevin turned around and did the same thing for virtually the same reason. According to The News&Observer, Lamarr is accusing Marie of “breaching her fiduciary duty” by giving away the things she bought him.

Over A Million Dollars In Gifts!

lamar-2
Pinterest
Pinterest

Lamarr reportedly claimed that Marie had bought him more than a million dollars worth of assets that she later sold. These include a $250,000 Chevy Stingray, two dump trucks worth $125,000 combined, a $600,000 automotive shop, a 77-acre dirt bike track that cost $80,000, and $100,000 worth of clothes and jewelry.

It also turns out they had plans to get married, and Marie gave birth to their second daughter while Lamarr was in prison.

Starting A New Life

Sunset
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

After their split, Lamarr found out that Marie was dating someone new. He also heard that she had given away some of the items she bought him and closed down the auto shop.

Lamarr is seeking more than $25,000 in damages, but Marie’s lawyers have already pointed out some holes in his complaint. Whatever happens, Marie can at least see this event as another life lesson. Her story proves that money doesn’t solve all problems, and it can even create more.