Winning the Lottery
Many people dream of winning the lottery. If they won millions of dollars, all of their problems would be solved. They could live in a beautiful mansion, drive a fancy car, and wear only designer clothes. With millions of dollars, they would never have to work again. There are plenty of reasons why winning the lottery would be incredible, but when Marie Holmes won, she says that it was one of the worst things that ever happened to her. What would make a woman upset about winning $188 million?
Nobody needed the money more than Marie. When she won the Powerball, she was 26-years-old. She was working at McDonald’s and Walmart, trying to support her four children on her own. Shortly before winning the lottery, she had to quit both of her jobs after one of her children was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The pressure was weighing on Marie. With four children and one with a debilitating disability, the pressure was mounting. Now that she couldn’t work, things were even worse.
Her Lucky Day
In February 2015, the Powerball jackpot was up to $564 million. She before heading home to her trailer home, she bought a ticket. After the drawing, Marie checked her ticket and realized that she was the winner. She says that he almost had a heart attack when she checked her ticket. She learned that two other people had the winning numbers also, so she was entitled to one-third of the jackpot.
A Long Process
Many people believe that when you win the jackpot, you turn your ticket in and are immediately given your money. This isn’t the case. Big winners need to go through a long process to claim their winnings. There is plenty of paperwork that needs to be filled out before you can get the money, and you have to decide if you are going to take your winnings in one lump sum or receive it in installments over 30-years. Marie could have taken her share of the prize, $188 million spread out over 30-years, or she could take a lump sum of $127 million. Marie, like most lottery winners, chose to take the lump sum.
Marie took the lump sum, assuming that she would get the $127 million and be on her way. She didn’t consider the fact that she would have to pay taxes. All lottery winners are required to pay federal and state taxes. The State of North Carolina was entitled to 5.8 percent of Marie’s winnings, and the Federal Government could take up to 25 percent. If the winnings are in the highest tax bracket, they can take up to 39.6 percent. Depending on how Marie was taxed, she would have to pay up to $50 million in taxes.
Marie had already figured out what she was going to do with her money. She planned to move out of her trailer and buy a proper home. She wanted to set up college funds for her children, and she pledged to donate money to her church. She says that she struggled to support her children for years, so she wanted to make sure to plan for their educations. While doing this, she wanted to make sure that they understood the value of a dollar, and she vowed not to spoil them. Unfortunately, she made some poor decisions with the money that left her wishing that she never won at all.
Marie had a boyfriend named LaMar McDow. When she got her money, she bought him a $15,000 diamond laced Rolex. He gladly took the watch, knowing that there was more where that came from. He only had $100 in his bank account when he was arrested in 2014. Fortunately for him, he had a girlfriend who could afford to bail him out, regardless of the cost. He denies that Marie paid $21 million to get him out of jail. He says that she paid just 10 percent of that. When he was released from prison, he moved into the $350,000 home that Marie bought.
Friends and Family Calling
Shortly after Marie moved into her new home, people started calling her asking for money. Friends and family members called about their money problems, and since Marie had the means to help, she did. Giving a friend $10,000 didn’t seem like a lot of money, but when more and more people asked for money, it started adding up. This is a problem that many lottery winners have, which is why experts suggest that lottery winners do whatever possible to keep their good fortune a secret.
As if the constant phone calls weren’t enough, Marie started to regret buying her dream house. The neighborhood that she lived in was an affluent white neighborhood. The people in the neighborhood weren’t happy about a black family moving into the neighborhood, so they started to harass the family. Marie says that one of her neighbors set up a camera to record everything they were doing in the yard. If Marie were driving the speed limit, her neighbors would wave for her to slow down. The neighbors didn’t threaten her, but they did want to harass her enough to make her want to move.
Marie attended the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church since she was a child. She took the church’s teachings to hear, and she chose to show the church and God her gratitude by giving the church 10 percent of her winnings. Had Marie been able to keep her winnings anonymous, this promise may not have come back to bite her. Unfortunately, in North Carolina, the names of lottery winners are made public according to the law. Marie kept her promise, and she donated $700,000 to the church that was in desperate need of repairs. Marie’s good fortune and her donation to the church caught the attention of a pastor named Kevin Mathews. He was not affiliated with Marie’s church, but he thought that he could get a piece of the pie. He told her that God led him to her. She and LaMar believed him, and they invited him to their home for ministerial services, and also to help LaMar make better life choices. It wasn’t long before he made a request.
Building a Retreat
It didn’t take Pastor Matthews long to show his true colors, and he asked Marie for $500,000 to help him build a retreat. He claims that Marie agreed, although there was no written agreement. The pastor didn’t want to wait for Marie to come up with the money, so he began building the retreat with his own money. When Marie didn’t put up any money toward the retreat, the pastor sue4d her for $10 million. Since the entire cost of the project was $1.5 million, suing for $10 million was outrageous. The stress of the lawsuit and the defamatory statements made by the pastor, Marie developed anxiety and depression. She had to start taking medication to help relieve her symptoms. When people heard about what the pastor was doing, they were outraged that a man who claimed to be a man of God would be so greedy and hurtful. A YouTuber created a series of videos about the case that was called F**k You Kevin Matthews. The pastor just wanted to vilify Marie, which caused a lot of stress.
While all of the drama was going on with the pastor, rumors began to swirl about Marie and her boyfriend. Marie started hearing rumors that LaMar was cheating on her. There was even a rumor that Marie was paying off his mistresses to get them to leave him alone. A video went viral on Facebook, where an unnamed woman claimed that she was having a relationship with LaMar, and he was taking money from Marie to pay for sexual favors from other women. All of this drama, combined with the problems with the pastor, was pushing Marie over the edge. She didn’t know what to do. Finally, someone stepped forward to help Marie.
Iyanla Vanzant is a well-known author, motivational speaker, and a life coach. She also had a television show called Iyanla: Fix My Life. She offered to help Marie regain control of her life. Marie’s mother, Fontella, also went on the show, and she told Marie a secret that she had been hiding. It was Fontella who picked the numbers but told her daughter that they were random. Fontella told her daughter that the numbers she chose were deliberate, and she picked them after having a dream that she had about Marie’s brother, who had passed away. Fontella used his birthday, the number 3 because he was her third child, and 25 because that is how old he would have been that year. She said that she never told Marie how she chose the numbers because she wanted her daughter and her friends to have a better life.
The Real Bail Story
LaMar’s gang name was Hot Sauce, and the truth about the money that Marie spent on is bail. It turned out that she bailed him out three times. Right after Marie won the cash, she bailed out her boyfriend and spent $3 million to do this. He kept getting in trouble, and less than a year later, he had to spend another $6 million. He didn’t change his behavior after this, and he was arrested a third time. This time, she paid $12 million. LaMar was taking advantage of Marie’s kind heart, and each time he got out of jail, he would get arrested again. Each time, the arrests took place in front of her children. People didn’t like what was happening to Marie, and he didn’t like that people were bashing him for bailing him out. He claimed that since he was the father of her youngest child, she was doing what was best for the family.
As if Marie wasn’t going through enough, people began bullying her. They accused her of stealing her mother’s lottery ticket, even though Fontella admitted on the show that she gave the ticket to her daughter. During the taping of the show, Marie also found out that her boyfriend and the father of her youngest child was sentenced to 7-years in jail. Some even accused Marie of not being a good catholic. Because the catholic church is against gambling, some people believe that she should never have bought a ticket in the first place. This is something that priests disagree with. Many church youth groups hold raffles, and many churches host bingo nights. How is this any different? They are all forms of gambling. The stress was wearing on Marie terribly, but between her own inner strength and help from Iyanla, she didn’t let the stress break her. She managed to hold it together and do something good.
The Marie Holmes Foundation
Marie wanted to do something good, despite all of the difficult things that were going on in her life. She created the Marie Holmes Foundation, which helped people who were in her situation before she won the lottery. It was designed to help struggling families and underprivileged children. Her organization often holds large events where school supplies and toys for the holiday season are given out.
A Cautionary Tale
Anyone who wins the lottery should use Marie’s story as a cautionary tale. If you win the lottery, the first thing that you should do is understand the tax laws before choosing the lump sum. Also, hire a financial advisor who can help you manage your money responsibly. Finally, if possible, keep your sudden windfall private. If your state doesn’t allow this, don’t flaunt your good fortune online. If strangers start calling, hang up. It is best to try to remain anonymous. If you learn anything from Marie’s story, it is that you should keep quiet about your winnings and get the necessary guidance right away. This Powerball lottery winner loses it all, but she manages to do some good with her winnings.