Be careful what you wish for – the story of the $188 million lotto winner

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We all go through issues in our lives – some of which we make, and others which are forced upon us by outside circumstances. Maybe we said the wrong thing or put ourselves at a disadvantageous position.

Or maybe it was something which was completely outside of our control, something like a war, an illness, or the collapse of the housing market which put us in such a bad position.

Yet one of the best things about being a human is the fact that we have the ability to bounce back from anything. We can always find a way out of our desperate situation and continue on living.


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But sometimes a huge windfall comes to you, and everything works out. All you need is a little bit of hope and faith and the universe will open up and help you out. But be careful, as if you do not watch out, this stroke of luck and happiness can quickly turn your life even more sour.

Sometimes, newfound wealth, fortune, and luck bring with it terrible accompaniments. It can bring about jealousy from neighbors, friends and family. It will bring about temptations, both of the flesh but also of materialistic yearnings the bearer of good fortune had never felt before.

“Why should I go through all of this, I’ll just give all of my money to my place of worship,” you may think to yourself. But religious and community leaders are also human, and, as this story will show you, are not above extorting someone who has had good fortune fall upon them.

This is exactly what happened to Marie Holmes, a young mother of four who promised money to her local church. However, the pastor became full of greed and extorted this young woman who had come to him so many times for advice. How did it end? Well…

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One in a million

There are a whole lot of different ways to make money – working, selling off your possessions, and sometimes (although we do not recommend it) via playing the lottery. Despite the fact that the chances of winning the lottery are typically close to zero, a whole lot of people still play it in order to try to win. Marie Holmes of North Carolina was one of those people. And yet, one day, she bought a ticket which would change her life.

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The pastor

A big factor in Marie’s life was her pastor, Kevin Matthews. He was the leader of his community in Shallotte, North Carolina, and he was a huge and positive influence in Marie’s life. Matthews provides spiritual guidance to his flock and had a very special relationship with Marie. He helped Marie through all of the twists and turns of her life, and it was to him she went to whenever things went wrong. Matthews even used to call himself a “warrior for Christ.”

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Winning the jackpot

One day Marie decided to go to a convenience store and try her luck on the state lottery. She went out and, after saying a quick prayer, got a lotto ticket and waited for the drawing to announce the winner. It turns out that, in February of 2015, she had the winning combination. Maire felt so blessed and fortunate. She did not know how to deal with the news. Little did she know, her life was about to completely change.

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Claiming the money

Marie was so shocked when she won that she was rendered speechless. She had about six months to go and claim the prize. She had two options for claiming the prize – either receiving $188 million in installments over the course of 30 years (about $530,000 a year) or getting the entirety of the $127 million winnings all at once (with taxes taken out of course). Marie decided on the large lump sum, and thought that all of her worries were gone. But they had just begun.

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Dressing the part

Marie was used to living in abject poverty. In fact she had lived in a trailer in Shallotte, North Carolina for the vast majority of her life. But now, with her Powerball win, she was finally moving on up. It was tough for her to hide how excited she was. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I saw the ticket and checked it,’’ she said. She was ready for a new lease on life.

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Stay anonymous

Various lotteries allow the winners to stay anonymous, but most of the time, people want to show off and flaunt their wealth. Also, once you start buying fancy clothes, driving nice cars, and giving money to their friends. However, when people start noticing that these people have a bunch of nice stuff all of a sudden, they may start to try and extort it from the winners, leading to a lot of drama.

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What was she going to do with it all?

When someone wins so much at one time, it can be scary and confusing to know what to do with the money. The smartest thing is to get a financial planner and a lawyer to make sure that you don’t squander all the money immediately. Marie did not do this however. Instead, she just said that she would not let the money change her. What was she planning to do with all that cash?

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It’s all for them

Marie wanted to do what we all would (hopefully) do and spend everything on her children. As she said, “Everything is all for them…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.’

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Take me to church

And yet, right when Marie was about to try and make her dreams come true, her windfall had turned into a nightmare. She promised to giver her church a huge donation, specifically to the pastor Kevin Matthews. Matthews had been there during her toughest moments, and she wanted to do something which would help the church. He had also always led her to believe that he was there for her no matter what.

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Giving back to the community

Marie told Pastor Matthews that she was prepared to give a 10 percent tithe of her winnings to the church so that the church could build a retreat. She promised about $1.5 million to the church, a quite generous offer. In fact, if someone is going to spend their lottery winnings on anything, helping those who have helped you is definitely one of the best ways to go in our book.

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Her donation

This was not the first time a lotto winner chose to donate their earnings to a place of worship, although it must be said that Marie’s donation was one of the largest donations to a house of worship ever made. There have been several other people who pledged and gave tons of money to their churches, including monks, bishops, and even pastors themselves. But we must commend Marie on her huge pledge.

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From poor to rich

Marie’s life changed completely 180 degrees, going from impoverished to the one percent over the span of a single day. The mother of four was working multiple jobs in order to support her children and this windfall was sure to help her out. But when she did not realize when she won was how the phrase “more money more problems” is the perfect descriptor of what was soon to come.

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More money, more problems

Marie and Matthews agreed that she would give him $1.5 million dollars over the course of two installments. Marie gave the first installment of $700,000 almost right away. But as she was preparing to give the second installment, she was hit by a shock. Pastor Matthews wanted more money. But he did not tell her that he wanted more money outright, he sued Marie – for an astounding $10 million.

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Verbal agreement

Kevin Matthews claimed to the press that Marie had gone back on her word and was not going to give him the other $700,000. Therefore, Matthews decided to sue her in order to get a court order for her to pay him $9.3 million more. Despite there being no written contract that she would give him 10 percent of her winnings as a tithe, Matthews claimed that he had made financial commitments in anticipation of the money which he could no longer keep.

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Emotional distress

Matthews also claimed that once Marie had reneged on her promise, he fell into 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,” the pastor said, before saying that he, “didn’t see this coming and I think it was a third party that came along and told her not to do this.’’

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His word against hers

’The bottom line,” Matthews continued in his statement, “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 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 was beginning to look like one of the weirdest if not saddest cases of a person trying to take advantage of a lottery winner.

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They saw him in a different light

Kevin Matthews was one of the biggest names in Shallotte, North Carolina. He was well loved by everyone in town, and was known for helping people. However, after the way that he treated Marie Holmes, a single mother with children to feed, the community started looking at him differently. A lot of people took to Facebook to express their displeasure of the way the pastor was handling the situation.

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Her house

In winning the lottery, Marie obviously wanted to get out of the trailer she was living in. She wanted to have a big old house, and she got it. She really also wanted to have a backyard for her kids to play in. However, she got a psychic to come check out the house – which was a former plantation home – and the psychic said that there were bad spirits from the slaves who used to live and work there.

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The numbers weren’t random

It also came to light that Fontella, Marie’s mother, was actually the one who paid for the lottery ticket, and not Marie herself. Fontella said that she had given Marie the $15 while she was on her way to church. Fontella sat down on television and shocked everyone, including Marie, about the real reason the numbers she asked to be picked were picked. The reason brought everyone to tears.

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It stays in the family

It turns out that Marie’s mother Fontella had a very well thought out, specific way of selecting her numbers. As she said during an interview, “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.” Marie felt horrible and wished that her mom could have won instead of her. Fontella says she’s happy that Marie won (and probably happy that she doesn’t have to deal with all of the fallout).

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Precautions

One of the things that people need to do once they win the lottery is sign the ticket – something that a lot of people tend to not do. A lot of people also do not store the ticket in a safe place, something which causes them to lose a ticket which may be a winner – if not for the grand prize then for at least a second round prize. Your signature proves that you are the legitimate owner of the ticket and will help protect you from people who you thought were your friends.

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Post-lottery life

People thought that Marie was going to use her money wisely, but she ended up falling into the same trap that so many other lottery winners find themselves in and made some extremely ill advised decisions. But, she did stick to her promise to make sure that she would be able to provide her children with a better life than she had. But emotions, as usual, got in her way.

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A lot of drama

Trouble just kept on piling up for Marie after the Pastor’s lawsuit was finally settled. Marie was smart enough to put her money in a foundation (tax deductible status!) but was still doing something which makes us all facepalm. She claimed to still be in love with her youngest daughter’s father, Lamarr McDow. McDow was the definition of a lowlife, never really staying out of jail for too long, and continuing to sell drugs.

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Bailed him out three times

McDow, who goes by the nickname “hot sauce,” is Marie’s daughter Ebony’s father. Hot sauce was arrested soon after the birth of Ebony on drug trafficking charges, got out on parole, and was then arrested again for violating his parole conditions. He was then arrested a third time for street racing. It took Marie $21 million to bail out her hot sauce boyfriend, and then bought him a $15,000 Rolex and a new car.

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Buying more than his freedom

During the couple’s first interview, hot sauce defended his girlfriend by saying that she was just being loyal to her man. “We are a couple, and I am the father of her youngest child,” he proclaimed. “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.”

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Is he a gold digger?

The sauce also spoke about how people were accusing him of only staying with Marie because she won so much money. He said that they were together for two years before she struck it rich and that he supported both her and her mother while she was living in a trailer. Hot Sauce McDow even spoke about the fact that Marie was not so sure about how great this sudden windfall was for her.

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He was unfaithful

And still, the troubles and the problems just kept on coming. A woman named Lorna Marlowe came up to her one day and said she was one of LaMarr “Hot Sauce” McDow’s girlfriends, and said that the sauce was not being faithful to her. Marlow said that Marie then began to call and threaten her to stop seeing McDow, and even offered Marlow money to stop seeing the man.

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Bitter sweet

And then, to make matters worse, LaMarr “Hot Sauce” Mcdow was convicted and about to be sent to prison for a really long time. This was tough as the other man in Marie’s life, her father, was also in prison. Despite being thankful for her wealth, she was sad that the money was not enough to keep her man out of prison. Too bad this was not the end of Marie’s troubles.

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What will happen next?

LaMarr “Hot Sauce” McDow was sent to prison for seven years because of his criminal escapades, and Marie has decided to wait for him to get released. She dreams of being able to marry him once he gets out of prison. No one knows how custody will work, especially since LaMarr has three other children from other relationships. Will Marie be able to put a family together after all of this?

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They lose their joy

Other experts, mainly psychologists, have spent lots of time studying the reasons so many people continue to buy lotto tickets despite the overwhelming evidence that they will probably lose. Basically, our own minds are tricking us into believing that we have a chance at winning, so we continue to try our luck. This is especially true of lower income people who want to escape financial difficulties.

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Psychological aspects

Soon after Maire won the ticket rumors began flying saying that she was not the real winner of the ticket. It turns out that a lot of Marie’s family members say that the ticket was not actually Marie’s to begin with and actually belonged to the family’s 90 year old matriarch grandmother. Marie’s cousins made the claim that Marie stole the ticket and signed her name on the back. Maybe the rest of the cousins just want that inheritance money.

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Rumors about the real owner

There is a YouTube video which has been watched thousands of times in which one of Marie’s cousins claims that Marie not only stole the ticket, but also was having an affair with the husband of one of the family members. The woman claimed that Marie offered her cousin a car in order to divorce her husband so that the husband would go over and be with Marie. Wow, what a mess.

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All in the family

Marie does not seem to be in control of her own life, and this lottery win does not seem to be doing her any favors. Before she won she was working at both McDonald’s as well as Wal-Mart in order to support her four children: Brayden, Charisma, Andrea, and Ebony, all aged between 10 and two at the time. Additionally, Brayden has cerebral palsy. We hope that Maria was able to treat herself just a little bit.

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Struggling mom

Marie seems to be basically alone in the world. Her four children are the products of relationships with two different men. One of the men is in prison for the majority of the next decade, while the other man does not speak to Marie nor the children. The first man, father to the three oldest kids, was Marie’s high school sweetheart but now lives in a whole other city. Marie truly needed the help.

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Single

According to various financial studies, close to one in three people who win the lottery end up bankrupt. Many times the money, which at first seems like a godsend, will actually make people’s lives much worse. A lot of the winners will leave and disconnect from close friends and family, something which leads to depression and many times substance abuse. All of this turns into a downwards spiral leading to a harsh crash.

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Relationship with her mother

One of the main problems that was talked about on a show detailing Marie and her newfound wealth was her relationship with her mom. Marie said on the show that she had a difficult childhood and that her mother treated both her and her siblings poorly. However, despite knowing all of this, Marie sent her children across the United States in order to live with her mother in Seattle.

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Lottery is a sin

Many people say that the lottery is a sin as gambling in and of itself is viewed as being extremely sinful. This is because many Christians believe that the money spent on the lottery should go to the church instead, and since there is a close to zero percent chance of winning, buying a lottery ticket is akin to “throwing the lord’s money out the window.” Therefore, any extra money a person has that goes to the lottery instead of the church is the same as stealing from the church.

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Fix her life

Marie sat down with relationship expert and famous TV personality Iyanla Vanzant. She saw what the pastor was doing to her and decided that she needed to reach out and help Marie and her poor decision making. So, Vanzant brought her show Fix My Life to Marie in order to talk her through her transition from rags to riches, as well as helping Marie gain some self respect and mature a little.

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Find yourself an advisor

As we are sure you have seen with tons of other lotto winners, if you are lucky enough to win, you should not squander all of your winnings in one place. Instead, go to a lawyer as well as a financial advisor once you win – do not tell anyone else, not even close family or friends. An advisor will help you to keep your money safe and even grow it, while a lawyer will make sure that no one tries to take it from you.

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