Against All Odds
Everybody buys a lottery ticket knowing that yes, technically they could win, but nobody actually expects to win. Someone like Marie Holmes, a Shallotte, North Carolina mom who struggled to make ends meet, had about a one in 175 million chance of winning, after all. When she bought her ticket one fateful day, she had no expectation of her life changing drastically.
Marie went to a local church in Shallotte, North Carolina. The pastor at the church was named Kevin Matthews. He had a close relationship with not only Marie, but also the other members of the church, providing religious guidance and trying to enrich their lives with the help of God. He considered himself to be a positive person in the lives of the church’s community.
What A Day
Back to Marie, who decided to get a lottery ticket during her trip to a local convenience store in February of 2015. Marie didn’t realize that this day would be a very lucky one indeed, as she would ultimately become the winner of a huge $188 million prize. Marie had no idea the dramatic changes that such a large prize would have.
Any former lottery winner will tell you that winning is an overwhelming experience. Obviously, your monetary concerns are no more, but your life changes drastically. Marie decided to claim $127 million as a lump sum and found herself with more money than she ever would have dreamed of having. She thought her problems were a thing of the past, but she was sadly mistaken.
Claiming The Prize
The day came for Marie to officially claim her prize. She showed up for the official announcement in a stylish white suit and was all smiles for the occasion. You couldn’t blame her for being excited! “I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I saw the ticket and checked it,” she shared. Definitely an understandable feeling.
Unfortunately, winning the lottery can lead to a lot of unwanted attention. While some states allow lottery winners to remain anonymous, the names of winners were public record in North Carolina when Marie won (a bill to change that was introduced months later), so she had no real choice but to claim her winnings publicly. This, of course, can lead to all sorts of people coming out of the woodwork and wanting something from you.
Most experts advise that lottery winners hold off on adopting an extravagant lifestyle right away, choosing instead to be modest about their newly acquired fortune. Those who knew Marie thought she would take that route for sure. “Marie is very grounded and she will know what to do with all that money,” her uncle said after she won.
Mother And Provider
First and foremost, Marie was focused on providing for her family. As a single mother, it was a dream come true for her to finally not have to worry about money. “I want them to understand that money doesn’t change you, but it can help you,” Marie said after winning. “So they don’t have to worry about debt, none of that.”
Helping The Church
One thing Marie knew she wanted to do was to donate some of her winnings to the church that she loved so much. The mother of four had felt like the church was a big part of her life and the pastor, Kevin Matthews, had always been support of her during difficult times. Again, Marie had no idea about the trials that were headed her way.
A Large Donation
Marie had some big plans for the money. She was going to spend about 10% of what she won to buy land and make a retreat center for her denomination. At the same time, she planned to donate $1.5 million to the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church in her home town of Shallotte, North Carolina. It was a generous gesture and you’d think that her pastor would be overjoyed about the decision.
As you might expect, Marie was far from the first person to ever decide to donate some money to her church after winning the lottery. However, Marie’s planned donation was one of the highest that has been disclosed, eclipsing amounts such as $100,000 or more given by winners from Tennessee, Massachusetts, and other states throughout the years.
It has to be a surreal experience to go from scraping along to get by to absolutely filthy rich in a single day. There’s no way that Marie ever pictured this kind of result as a single mother of four children with multiple jobs. However, she soon found out that her new reality would come with its own set of problems, many of which she could never have foreseen.
Marie was absolutely floored when she learned that she was facing a $10 million lawsuit filed by none other than Pastor Kevin Matthews himself. This came even though she was planning to donate $1.5 million out of the kindness of her heart. However, the church leader said that she had promised him much more than the amount she planned to donate.
Kevin Matthews’ legal argument was that Marie had actually promised to donate a tenth of her winnings, which would be about $12 million of her lump sum from the lottery. There was no signed agreement, as it was a verbal promise made informally, but Kevin claimed that he made financial commitments based on the understanding that she would be making the donation.
Pastor Turned Bad
Incredibly, this supposed man of God even said that Marie’s so-called broken promise had caused him emotional distress! “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 claimed. “I didn’t see this coming and I think it was a third party that came along and told her not to do this.”
“A Warrior For Christ”
Pastor Kevin Matthews even invoked God as part of his reasoning for the lawsuit! “I just want her to do what she said she was going to do,” he said. “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.” This quite understandably led to a lot of backlash toward Matthews.
His True Colors
It was an unfortunate event, but still ultimately a good thing as the churchgoers got to see who Pastor Kevin Matthews really was. The community was not pleased with how he had turned on a local woman and a single mother who went to the church, especially just to get a quick payday out of it. They definitely let him know what they thought.
Marie bought a beautiful home that was on a plantation so that her kids would have plenty of room to play. Unfortunately, with all of the troubles that Marie had been having after winning the lottery, she accepted counsel from some…strange people. One of them told her that she was having problems in part because of negative energy on the plantation from when slaves were owned there.
Who Chose The Numbers?
Marie was on a show with her mom that also asked another important question: where did the winning numbers come from? After all, Marie’s mom was actually the one who picked up the tickets with money Marie had given her. Marie always thought the numbers were random, but her mom had a big reveal that would ultimately rock her world.
Marie’s mother, Fontella, chose the numbers for a tragic reason. “I kept dreaming about your brother that we lost,” she said, with tears coming to her eyes. “His birthday, he was the third child, he’d have been 25 that year. Those were the numbers.” Marie was stunned and though her mother had actually picked the winning numbers, her mom said she was glad Marie had won the money.
There were several things that Marie did that were smart after winning the lottery. The first thing is that she signed her ticket and stored it in a safe place to prove that she was the owner and keeping anyone from trying to steal it. She also kept the fact that she won under wraps until she could officially claim the prize, which also lowered the risk of anything bad happening.
After winning the lottery, Marie did make a few lavish investments, the biggest of which was her roomy new house. However, she wasn’t having financial struggles like so many other lottery winners. Instead, her problems were personal, including the lawsuit that the pastor that she had trusted decided to file against her that fateful day.
If only Marie’s problems began and ended with the lawsuit! Unfortunately, that was far from being the case. Marie, like so many other single mothers, had been preyed upon by a no-good man that she couldn’t seem to get away from, and she maintained the relationship after winning the prize. It was Lamarr McDow, who was her last daughter’s father and frequently in and out of jail.
Marie’s baby daddy was nicknamed “Hot Sauce,” of all things. He had been arrested for drug trafficking, breaking probationary conditions, and street racing. Marie spent millions bailing him out, but she also spent thousands on gifts that he certainly didn’t deserve, such as a Rolex watch, brand new car, and other expensive items.
I’m Sure That’s Why
Lamarr was predictably defensive when people criticized her decisions. “We are a couple, and I am the father of her youngest child. This is what people do for each other,” he said. “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.” Never mind that Lamarr was the one committing crimes that kept getting him put back in there.
After Her Money
The repeat criminal known as “Hot Sauce” bristled at the idea that he was after Marie’s wealth, noting that they were together before she won the prize. He said that he even helped support her once upon a time when she was living in a mobile home with her mother. “When money comes, there are more problems,” Lamarr said of Marie’s new life.
Another Sad Twist
Marie found herself embroiled in some real drama when a woman named Lorna Marlowe said she had been seeing LaMarr. Marie was obviously hurt, but her reaction was not to kick him to the curb and let him take care of himself. Sadly, she instead decided to threaten his side chick and even worse, offer her money to stop seeing him in the future. Have some self-respect, Marie!
It’s Better This Way
Surprise, surprise, LaMarr is once again in legal trouble and is now facing a rather big sentence that could put him away for awhile. Despite all this, Marie has chucked common sense aside and said that she will stand by her, uh, “man.” She said, “I don’t want to do it without you, but I will do it,” apparently oblivious to the fact that it will actually be much easier without him.
More Bad Decisions Planned
In case you’re not already yelling at your screen, Marie has revealed that she plans to marry LaMarr in the future despite his pending jail time and the fact that he seriously goes by the nickname “Hot Sauce.” Oh, and he has three children from a previous relationship, so her huge new house will come in handy when they all reunite as one big, happy family.
Money Can’t Buy Happiness
It really seems like money should be able to buy you happiness, but scientists say this is definitely not true. They say that in time, being rich becomes the new normal and money can no longer provide happiness as a result. “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 should no longer contribute very much to their general level of happiness,” they say.
Why is the lottery so popular? Well, people tend to buy tickets even though their chances of winning are close to zero because if they did win, people believe that their problems would be literally wiped away for an investment of just a few dollars. That’s why the lottery has been referred to as “another tax on the poor” by many who are against the practice.
All These Rumors
Marie’s big family did not necessarily have her back. Winning the lottery can turn even your loved ones into bad people, it seems. Some of Marie’s family members spread a rumor that the ticket never actually belonged to her, but was her 90-year-old grandmother’s! They said that she stole it for herself, signed it, and claimed the prize. There was no proof whatsoever that this happened.
It Gets Worse
In case that’s not classy enough for you, one of Marie’s cousins decided to take to YouTube to slam her, claiming she had an affair with the husband of another of their cousins. In this video, she made a similar allegation to what we heard before about Marie, that when the husband went to yet another of their cousins, she offered to pay her to ignore him so she could keep him to herself. Wow. Just wow.
Not Always Lucky
It’s easy to assume that every lottery winner leads a charmed life, but Marie’s life has always featured a host of problems. The mother of four’s youngest child, Brayden, suffers from cerebral palsy. She long worked jobs such as McDonald’s and Walmart to support her four children while LaMarr and the other supposed “father” were out of the picture.
All By Herself
The father of Marie’s other three children is not involved in the kids’ life whatsoever. He was Marie’s old high school sweetheart and now lives in a completely different city from the family. You have to wonder if he thought about coming out of the woodwork once he heard that Marie had won nearly $200 million in the lottery, however.
Lotteries Cause Problems
Although lottery winners don’t always have terrible lives, many of them do experience a lot of difficulties both personally and financially. Almost 1/3 of all lottery winners declare bankruptcy later, incredibly. Furthermore, many suffer from depression that is undoubtedly encouraged by the fact that they tend to have strained relationships with friends and family.
Life On Camera
Marie appeared on shows and used footage from her real life to help others understand her story. “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,” said one of her confidants.
Although Marie has since reconciled with her mother, when she appeared on a show she revealed that her mother had often been mean to her and her other siblings while they were growing up. Still, Marie had enough confidence in her mother to let her children stay with her in Seattle after she won the lottery, so they apparently patched things up.
What Extremists Say
Like every religion, Christianity has its share of extremists. Some of these people say that Christians who play the lottery are being unholy and gambling “with the Lord’s money,” for instance. These whack-jobs say that therefore, just playing is sinning. Of course, once you’ve won it’s probably kosher as long as you donate a large sum to the church.
Fix My Life
The woman who claimed earlier that Marie’s plantation home was harboring negative energy was Iyanla Vanzant, a self-professed relationship expert and host of Fix My Life. She thought that Marie had a lack of self-respect, maturity, and dignity that was clear in the decisions she made with her personal life, which is actually hard to disagree with.
What You Should Do
If you find yourself lucky enough to win the lottery, you should consult with a financial advisor and attorney before you do anything else, experts say. Keep the number of people that you tell to a minimum as you explore your options. As for Marie, we hope that she can straighten things out and distance her and her children from toxic people.