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This is What Former Lottery Winner is Doing Now

If you had one wish what would it be? Probably, a good number of people would choose to win the lottery. With all that money it sure would be great to buy a new house, drive a fancy car or own a private jet.

The stars lined up in 2015 for Marie Holmes, a poor single mother, who won the North Carolina Powerball lottery that was worth a cool $188 million dollars. However, after a series of events that cost Holmes a lot both financially and emotionally, she made may have wished that she never won the lottery in the first place.

Nobody Better Deserved to Win the Lottery

Nobody deserved to win the lottery more than Marie Holmes. At the time, Holmes was a 26-year-old single mother who worked two jobs to support her four children. It was difficult to work both at McDonald’s and WalMart, but she did whatever it took to take care of her children.

Shortly before Holmes hit the jackpot, she had to leave both jobs as one of her children was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Caring for four children is tough for any couple, especially if one of them has a debilitating disability, but for a single mother the pressure was nearly unbearable. All she wished for was to take care of her children, and now she wasn’t able to hold on to her jobs to provide for them.

One Lucky Day Her Wish Came True

In February 2015, the North Carolina Powerball jackpot was at $564 million dollars, so she got herself a ticket for a few dollars at the local gas station. Not long after she got back to her trailer home, did she find out that she held the winning ticket.

When asked how she felt after winning, Holmes said, “I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I saw the ticket and checked it”. Because two other people also had winning tickets, Holmes only won a third of the jackpot.

Not so Fast

What is the most you have ever won on a lottery ticket? Fifty dollars? A hundred dollars? Because the vast majority of lottery wins are nothing life-changing, the lottery commission authorizes the places that sell lottery tickets to pay winnings up to $599 dollars. All big winners, such as Marie Holmes who had just won $188 million needed to go through a long process to claim their winnings.

Lottery winners need to fill out paperwork to verify the magic ticket, then there is a waiting period for the funds to be dispersed, and lastly, winners need to decide whether they want the money in a lump sum or to receive it in installments over thirty years.

A Millionaires Choice

The hardest choice fan overnight multi-millionaire has is whether to take their millions in a lump sum payment or spread it out over a set period of years. Marie Holmes had the option of taking the $188 million spread out over the thirty years or take the lump sum of $127 million dollars. It’s actually not an easy choice as you may think, because the lump payment is worth significantly less. According to experts, it makes financial sense to take the whole lump sum provided and invest it, because with interest it would be more profitable over a thirty period than what the lottery commission offers.

We don’t usually hear about the ones that take the spread out payments, probably because most don’t. If you are lucky enough to beat the improbable odds, then you probably would take the one big oversized check as Holmes did.

Here comes Uncle Sam

Still, from nothing to $127 million isn’t too bad, even though it is a $51 million dollar difference. It makes sense because $1 million is unfathomable to most of us, so $127 million doesn’t look that much different than $188 million. Little did Holmes know that the deductions didn’t end there.

Lottery winnings are taxed as if it were income, both on the federal and state level. On lump sums, the State of North Carolina takes 5.8% and the Federal Government takes a minimum of 25%. Sometimes they can take up to 39.6% if the winnings qualify for the highest tax bracket. Depending on how Ms. Holmes was taxed, she may have had to pay up to $50 million dollars on her winnings.

Noble Plans

Have you ever get asked what you would do if you won a million dollars? Many people might say commendable things such as; donating money to charity, helping out relatives and friends, and investing it wisely. Holmes wasn’t different than any one of us, as she planned to put the money to noble causes. She pledged to donate money to her church, move out of their trailer to a proper house, and to set up college funds for her children.

Emplaning her decisions, Holmes told NBC news station after winning “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.”

Nobody Saw it Coming

Ms. Holmes was described as a person who understood the value of a dollar according to her friends and family. After all, she was a single mother who worked two jobs at McDonald’s and Wal-Mart to support her four children; one of whom had cerebral palsy. Even though she now had the ability to own a fleet of planes from her lottery winnings, nobody thought she would take it for granted.

Despite all of this, money changes people, especially if it is a case of rags to riches. The person who everyone believed deserved it the most soon would be the one everyone turns on.

Winner Beware

Winners of the lottery need financial counselors much more than already established multi-millionaires who already know how to invest money wisely. With that much money, it seems impossible to ever blow it, but as many financial experts will say that; if it is not properly invested than even this mind-boggling amount of money can disappear in the blink of an eye.

Ms. Holmes understandably had to do things that benefited herself and her children’s standard of life. But there were some very dubious decisions that she made that made her go down the wrong road

The frivolous spending began when she bought her boyfriend, LaMar McDow, a $15,000 diamond laced Rolex. What seems like a penny in a bucket to the amount she won was actually the tip of the iceberg of what her boyfriend ended up taking from her. McDow only has a hundred dollars in his bank account when he was arrested in 2014, and now he had a girlfriend that has the ability to bail him out no matter what the cost.

Denying the allegation that Ms. Holmes spent $21 million on his bails, McDow said, ‘’So many people are going on that she has paid $21 million to get me out of jail, but that ain’t true. It is just 10 percent”.

A New House

McDow used to live with Ms. Homes and the four children in her trailer before being sent to jail in 2014. When he was released from jail, McDow moved into the $350,000 home that Ms. Holmes bought after winning the lottery, according to a report by the Daily Mail.

The report also shed light on how much money Ms. Holmes actually received from the lump sum that she decided to take. After taxes, she received $88 million which is a far fetch from the original $188 million dollars she won. Again, for someone that comes from rags to riches $88 million is still a mind-boggling amount of money, but Ms. Holmes would soon learn that a loss of $100 million dollars makes a big difference.

Can I Borrow Some Money?

What happens next happens is unsurprising. After Ms. Holmes became famous for her lottery winnings, friends, family, and many others were calling her to borrow some money or for a straight up handout. After all, what’s $10,000 for a good friend? What’s a new home for an aunt that bought your favorite toy in preschool?

The couple was constantly beleaguered for their money, even though their friends and family were coming to her with good intentions. It got to the point that every time McDow fielded a call, Holmes would say to him “when money comes there are more problems’’. How right she was.

Wrong Neighborhood

After the big jackpot win, Ms. Holmes and her boyfriend who were persons of color moved out of their trailer home into a very expensive home in an affluent white neighborhood. Sadly, racial prejudice is still alive and well in the world, and the couple was constantly harassed by their neighbors both subtly, and not so subtly.

“One neighbor set up a camera to record everything we were doing. 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. They were prejudiced,” McDow told the Daily Mail.

Tithe to The Church

The Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church was Ms. Holmes’s sanctuary ever since she was a kid. She took the church’s teachings to heart and tried to exemplify them in her day to day life. To display her gratitude to God and the church, Ms. Holmes pledged 10%, also known as a ‘tithe’, of her winnings to charity.

Perhaps if Ms. Holmes was able to claim her winnings anonymously, and kept a secret of her charitable donations, then no one would have been able to take advantage of her good heart. Unlike other states, all big lottery winners names are published for the public record in North Carolina by law.

Getting the Ball Rolling

Ten percent of $88 million dollars is a lot of cash, and even the noblest institutions could use that staggering amount of money for unnecessary things. Still, Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church was a strong pillar in her life, and according to a press release, “The first thing she promised was to tithe – or give a tenth of her winnings to charity.”

To get things started she donated $700,000 to the church that she and her family have gone to for years. The church used the money for long overdue needed repairs.

Pastor with An Agenda

A pastor, named Kevin Mathews, who was not affiliated with Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church started to get involved with Ms. Holmes and her family. Even though they did not know him before they won the lottery, the pastor claimed that ”God led him to them”. They believed him, and invited him to their home for ministerial services and to help McDow make better life decisions.

Pastor Mathews felt comfortable enough to ask Ms. Holmes for one and a half million dollars to help him build a retreat. The pastor says that even though the agreement was never put in writing, Ms. Holmes did agree verbally to give him the money. Rather than wait, Pastor Mathews went on to build the retreat with his own money.

Pastor with A Lawsuit

Pastor Mathews came out publicly with the intention to sue Ms. Holmes for $10 million dollars. Where he got that figure from remains a mystery considering the resort cost only 1.5 million. It’s clear though that he was trying to get a large portion of the 10% of Ms. Holmes’s winnings that promised to her church and to various other charities.

Considering nothing was put in writing, Kevin Mathews didn’t have much of a case. Brazenly Mathews claimed, “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”.

Backlash

When the story hit the headlines, the public was outraged at the nerve of the greedy pastor who was going after a noble church-going woman. People called out the fraudster for what he was, and even a YouTuber published a serious of videos titled “F*** You Kevin Matthews’’.

in most probability, any sane lawyer wouldn’t take up the case because there was no written contract between Ms. Holmes and Pastor Mathews. Dubiously, the pastor refused to give his lawyers name to a reporter because the ‘’motion hasn’t been completed’. Sadly, it seems that the greedy pastor just wanted to vilify Ms. Holmes.

Skeletons in The Closet

What came out next in the news headlines was much more devastating to Ms. Holmes and her four children. Somehow it was picked up that her ex-convict boyfriend was cheating on her. Reports kept creeping in that Ms. Holmes chose to pay off McDow’s mistresses instead of kicking him to the curb.

A video went viral on Facebook where an unnamed woman claimed that not only was McDow cheating on Ms. Holmes was also taking money from her to pay for ‘sexual favors’ from other women.

Seeking Control

It takes an incredible person whether rich or poor to pick themselves up when misfortune falls. Despite all the wealth and the negative headlines, Ms. Holmes found the strength to not give up. The lottery winner turned to an inspirational woman to help her take control of her life again.

With her life spiraling out of control, Ms. Homes made an appearance on the Iyanla: Fix My Life talk show. The show can be found on the Oprah Network which features relationship expert Iyanla Vanzant, a well-known author, motivational speaker, and a life coach.

A Guarded Secret

Some people choose numbers that are considered lucky for their lottery ticket. It’s not uncommon to find people using their child’s birthday or wedding date on the magic ticket that could change their lives forever.

During Ms. Homes appearance on the Iyanla: Fix My Life talk show, her mother made a shocking confession. Fontella was the one who picked the numbers and let her daughter believe that it was her own random numbers that won. “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,” she said.

In disbelief, Ms. Homes asked why she didn’t tell her this before? To which her mother answered that ‘’I wanted her daughter and grandchildren to have a better life.’’

The Real Hot Sauce

LaMar McDow is known as ‘Hot Sauce’ by his fellow gang members and was bailed out three times by Ms. Holmes. McDow was Ms. Holmes’s boyfriend before she won the big dollars, and was in jail at the time for drug charges. Right after Ms. Holmes won, she bailed out her boyfriend to the tune of a three-million-dollar bond. Hot Sauce took advantage of her kindness right away by using her money for his own self-gratification.

Not even a year passed and he was arrested again that July. Once again, her kind heart bailed out the gang member for a six-million-dollar bond. Instead of changing his behavior, McDow continued to cheat on Ms. Holmes and use her money for his exploits. Instead of learning from his mistakes, Hot Sauce was arrested for a third time. Instead of letting him rot in jail, Ms. Holmes bailed him out for a whopping twelve-million-dollar bond.

Boyfriend Takes Down Girlfriend

It seemed inevitable that Ms. Holmes would face serious trouble as long as she stayed with McDow. That day came when McDow was arrested the second time when police were summoned to arrest McDow for violating his mandated curfew. When the police came in, they found marijuana in the house, and also charged Ms. Holmes for possession. Sadly, this all took place in front of her children.

Marijuana use has become very common in the United States, but sadly the black community are demonized for it and are three times more likely to get arrested for possession. The legalization of recreational marijuana is only offered in ten states, and the use of medical marijuana is allowed in thirty states. Unfortunately for Ms. Holmes, any forms of use are prohibited in North Carolina.

Not a Happy Camper

The three-time convict was not happy that his girlfriend was being bashed in the newspapers for posting his bail three times. McDow 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. 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,” he said.

Accusations

In the middle of taping Iyanla: Fix My Life, two more bad things made headlines. After her mother confessed to what happened with the numbers on the lottery ticket, relatives and friends started to accuse Ms. Holmes of stealing the ticket from her mother. It did not matter to them that Fontella said on the show that she gave it willingly.

Ms. Holmes also found out during the taping of the show that her boyfriend was heading back to jail to serve a seven-year sentence for possession and distribution of heroin. Ever since the day her lucky numbers were called so many bad things had befallen her. Most people would break, but not Ms. Holmes.

A Promise Fulfilled

Despite questionable decisions on her part, Ms. Holmes still kept her integrity. She fulfilled her promise of giving 10% of her winnings to various which equated to $9.7 million dollars. Part of the tithed money was used to set up a charitable foundation in North Carolina called The Marie Holmes Foundation.

The foundation is mirrored after her life’s experiences before winning the lottery. As a single mother who worked two very low wage jobs, it was very difficult for Ms. Holmes to provide for her four children, especially with the medical bills for the child that has cerebral palsy. The Marie Holmes Foundation provides for underprivileged children and struggling families. The charity often holds large events where school supplies and toys for the holiday season are given out.

Isn’t She a Christian

Ms. Holmes is a devout Catholic which could make it strange to some that she even bought a ticket, because the Christian church frowns upon gambling. But it’s hypocritic to believe so according to one pastor who told the Christian Post, “You can’t be against the lottery, but your youth department is doing a RAFFLE! Same thing pastor. SAME THING!”

“You can’t be against the lottery and you have a prize of $500 for whoever brings the most people on family and friends day,’’ he said.

Money Is the Devil

In the same article in the Christian Post, another pastor cited biblical sources that indicated that money is the source of evil, “Now, having said that, let me tell you that the biblical principles that would dissuade a Christian from gambling are several. First, we must guard against our love of money.’’

“In Scripture, there are instances of casting lots but usually not for material gain. It rather emphasizes the sovereignty of God. For example, Proverbs 16:33 says ‘’The lot is cast into the lap but it’s every decision is from the Lord,” he said.

A Word of Advice

In this story, Ms. Holmes went from rags to riches in a very short period of time, and a few good things and many bad things followed suit. If you happen to win big in the lottery, we suggest to read this story first and take it to heart. Make sure you understand the tax laws and processes before opting to take the lump sum, make sure the ticket is signed by you to avoid accusations of theft, and make sure cash the ticket in before it expires.

Another word of advice. It’s ok to use the money to improve your quality of life, but make sure to hire a good financial advisor who understands the financial market. Such an advisor will be able to provide you with sound instruction on how to protect your money.

Lessons learned

Chances are you aren’t going to win the lottery a second time. Be careful, because even though millions seem impossible to blow in one lifetime; it can happen in a blink of an eye. Besides the government taking a big chunk of your money, unpaid debts can bring you down real fast.

Lastly, expect to be harassed by family members, friends, and even strangers. It’s wise to not flaunt your money in peoples faces, and try to stay as anonymous as possible when helping other people out.

This is What Former Lottery Winner is Doing Now If you had one wish what would it be? Probably, a good number of people would choose to win the lottery. With all that money it sure would be great

Pastor sues poor mother after $188 million lottery win

Updated on November 10, 2020

By Megan Liscomb

Winning the lottery is a one in a million chance, and more often, the odds are much worse than that. Single mother Marie Holmes took a random chance and was that one person who hit the jackpot. Despite winning a life-changing $188 million, her pastor would make it the most difficult experience of her life. That’s not the only thing that would make her wish she’d thrown that ticket away…

1. A hard-working mother

Before winning the lotto in 2015, Marie Holmes never anticipated that someday she would have hundreds of millions of dollars. Holmes was a 26-year-old single mother of four young children who worked hard to provide for them. Just before she won, Holmes was working two jobs: one at McDonald’s and the other at Wal-Mart.

As if working two jobs and caring for four kids wasn’t hard enough, Holmes had an extra burden to bear. One of her children had been recently diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and Holmes had left her jobs to care for him. So naturally, when she learned she had won the lottery, it must have seemed like a dream come true.

NEXT: Unfortunately for Holmes, the dream soon became a nightmare.

2. A day like any other day

In February 2015, the North Carolina Powerball jackpot had reached a staggering $564 million. Unaware that she would soon become a wealthy woman, Marie Holmes was still living in a trailer and struggling to take care of her kids. On a whim, she bought a lottery ticket from a gas station convenience store.

“I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I saw the ticket and checked it.” Holmes said, describing the incredible rush she felt from winning that huge sum. Reportedly there were two other tickets sold with the winning numbers, so Holmes would receive a third of the total jackpot.

NEXT: Prize or punishment? Marie Holmes got more than she bargained for when she turned in her winning ticket.

3. How lottery prizes really work

Let’s say you’ve won the lottery. You’re holding the winning ticket in your hands, so you’re instantly mega-rich right? Well, not exactly. If you won $599 or less, you can pick up your cash prize from the spot where you bought your ticket. Larger jackpots, like the one Marie Holmes swooped up, require a lengthier process.

Your state’s lottery board needs to verify the ticket, a process which requires you to fill out a lot of paperwork. Next, there is a waiting period before any funds can be disbursed. Finally, you must choose between receiving your winnings in installments over 30 years or in a smaller lump sum.

NEXT: Marie Holmes had to choose between taking the lump sum or getting installments. Did she make a mistake?

4. Taking her lumps

When she claimed her winnings, Marie Holmes had the choice between a lump sum of $127 million or $188 million in installments. Like many of us would do, Holmes opted for the lump sum, so she could have her riches right away. Do you think she made the right choice?

Most financial experts would say yes. It might seem like it would be better to eventually have more money, but if you were to take the lump sum upfront and invest it wisely, after 30 years it would be worth more than the total of your installments thanks to the magic of compound interest. Of course, this advice only holds up if you invest carefully and avoid extravagant spending.

NEXT: Marie Holmes had big plans for her newfound wealth, but unfortunately, life got in the way.

5. Enjoying her prize

Though she never expected to win big, Marie Holmes quickly made some nice plans for what she hoped to do with her prize money. She pledged to donate money to her church first. Next, Holmes planned to use the cash to upgrade her living situation from a trailer to buying a home. Finally, she would set up college funds for each of her children to give them a shot at a better future.

Holmes was emotional as she told her plans to a local NBC station. “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.” Holmes said.

NEXT: Sadly, her troubles were about to begin.

6. Paying the taxman

You’ve already seen how a lottery prize can shrink from $188 million to $127 million just based on the payment plan, but there’s another big expense for new lottery winners to contend with. State and federal taxes can take another big chunk of a lucky winner’s jackpot. At the federal level, lottery winnings are taxed the same as income, with the federal government withholding 25% when the initial lump sum is disbursed.

For winnings that qualify for the highest tax bracket, the government may take a total of 39.6%. If Holmes’ prize was taxed at that rate, she would pay $50 million in federal taxes alone. Then, there’s state tax to pay, which in North Carolina is 5.8%.

NEXT: After paying taxes on her big winnings, more outrageous expenses popped up.

7. The struggle to stay grounded

As a low-wage worker at McDonalds and Wal-Mart, Marie Holmes had no experience dealing with large sums of money like her Powerball winnings, but she didn’t want the money to change her. According to friends and family, Marie had always been a grounded person and they didn’t foresee her getting carried away with her win.

However, Marie would soon be making headlines with the way she managed to spend large sums of money. Where once she had been painted as a deserving winner in the media, she would soon be portrayed as frivolous and foolish. Whether she did the right thing or not is all up to Holmes.

NEXT: Holmes starts spending fast with dramatic consequences.

8. Keep a low profile

Although winning the lottery is exciting, experts advise against making big lifestyle changes too quickly after hitting the jackpot. Many financial advisors say you should wait at least six months after a win before you make a big financial decision, such as quitting your job or buying a new house or car.

Unfortunately, Marie Holmes did not follow this advice, but it’s hard to blame her. After all, would you keep living in a trailer if you knew you had millions in the bank? Plus, Holmes had her children to consider. However, it was the spending she did on her boyfriend that raised the most eyebrows.

NEXT: She paid his bail how many times.

9. Bailing out her boyfriend

LaMar McDow, Holmes’ boyfriend, wound up seeing the most immediate benefit from her windfall. In less than a year after getting her big prize, Holmes paid to bail McDow out of jail on three separate occasions. McDow, who also goes by Hot Sauce, was in jail on drug charges when she bought her lucky ticket, and she bailed him out soon after on a $3 million bond.

McDow was arrested again in July of that year, and she bailed him out to the tune of $6 million. Finally, he was caught up in crime again and she posted a $12 million bond to free him. Here’s hoping that the third time’s a charm and he’s learned his lesson.

NEXT: McDow wasn’t the only one in trouble with the law.

10. Holmes gets charged

McDow’s July arrest led to charges for Marie Holmes as well. Police visited their home to arrest McDow for violating the curfew required with his bond release, and Holmes was charged with possession of marijuana. Two other adults in the home were also charged with possession, and the children were there during the arrest.

Though medical and recreational marijuana has been legalized in over 30 over states, North Carolina (where Holmes resides) remains a holdout. Sadly, though marijuana usage rates are about the same among all races, black people are three times more likely to be arrested for possession and face costly legal consequences.

NEXT: Would standing by her man prove worth it for Holmes?

11. McDow defends his girlfriend’s spending

When McDow saw the headlines bashing Holmes for all the money she spent on his bail, he had to set the record straight. In an interview with Daily Mail Online he said, “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.”

He continued, “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.” Sounds like Hot Sauce got spicy with his girlfriend’s critics!

NEXT: The Daily Mail piece reveals more about where the lottery money was going.

12. A beautiful new home

According to the Daily Mail, Holmes spent $350,000 to build a new home on a gated piece of property in Shallotte, North Carolina. When McDow was released from jail, he came to live with her and her four children in the new home. Previously, he had lived with them in their trailer.

The piece also revealed that after taxes, Holmes had received a lump sum of $88 million — $100 million less than the headline-grabbing prize that had been previously reported. This disparity between what was reported and what she actually received would come to be very important in her next legal saga.

NEXT: Before we get to her next troubles, get a load of how Holmes took care of her Hot Sauce.

13. Sugar baby

When McDow was arrested back in 2014, he listed his assets at a mere $120. However, when Holmes won the lottery, his fortunes quickly turned around, too. Daily Mail reported that Holmes had used part of her earnings to help McDow establish his own auto repair business. They also said she had bought him a $15,000 Rolex dripping in diamonds.

McDow was eager to clarify that though his bails had totaled $21 million, Holmes had only really paid a fraction of that amount. “So many people are going on that she has paid $21m to get me out of jail, but that ain’t true. It is just 10 percent.” He said.

NEXT: Even their lovely new home turned out to cause trouble for Holmes and McDow.

14. Nosy neighbors

The high-profile lottery winner moved her family into an affluent neighborhood after a lifetime of minimum wage jobs. The inevitable class differences between Holmes, McDow, and their neighbors were allegedly exacerbated by the addition of racial prejudice. McDow told the Daily Mail that their mostly white neighbors had been harassing the family and he suspected their behavior was racially motivated.

McDow said, “One neighbor set up a camera to record everything we were doing. 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. They were prejudiced.”

NEXT: Their neighbors weren’t the only nosy folks in Holmes’ life.

15. Can you lend me a million?

Like many lotto winners, Holmes probably wishes she had been able to keep her winnings to herself and remain anonymous. Often, when news spreads that someone has won the lotto, people start coming out of the woodwork to ask for cash, and Holmes was no exception.

In his interview, McDow confirmed that the couple had been fielding many calls from all kinds of people looking for a handout. He said that when that happens, Holmes says to him, “when money comes there are more problems.” If she only knew how many more problems awaited her.

NEXT: Holmes’ generous gift to her church leads to greed.

16. Church on Sunday

Holmes grew up with a strong religious background, so one of her first commitments when she won the lottery was to give 10% of the money to her church. However, it might have been better for her in the long run if she had been able to keep her winnings private and make her donation anonymously.

In some states, lottery winners are allowed to protect their anonymity, but in North Carolina, their names are published. Though experts recommend you don’t tell anyone if you do win the lottery, Holmes had no choice due to North Carolina’s laws. Once the word got to her pastor, a big misunderstanding shattered their relationship.

NEXT: Holmes gives a big gift, and it does not go unpunished.

17. Holmes gave $700,000 to her church

Shortly after her marijuana arrest, Holmes got around to giving back to her church as she had promised. According to a press release at the time, “The first thing she promised was to tithe – or give a tenth of her winnings to charity.” To get the ball rolling, Holmes gave $700,000 to Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

The church was grateful for the donation and planned to use it for some much-needed repairs. Holmes called Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church her “home church” and was glad to be able to give it that gift. According to one representative at the time, Holmes and her family had been going to the church for decades.

NEXT: An outside pastor makes a grab for Holmes’ cash.

18. Pastor Kevin Matthews

Outside of Pleasant Hill, there was another pastor who was close to Holmes and her family. Pastor Kevin Matthews claims that God led him to Holmes and that he visited the family several times in their new home and ministered to them. He also says that he tried to help McDow make positive changes and live a better life. He does not appear to have been involved with the family before they won the lottery.

Matthews was hoping to build a retreat, and he eventually asked Holmes for $1.5 million to help him accomplish his goal. He claims that she initially verbally agreed, but they never put a deal in writing. Still, according to Matthews’ story, he went ahead and put his own money down on the property.

NEXT: Pastor Matthews announces his lawsuit.

19. The lawsuit makes headlines

Holmes would soon find herself in the news again, but this time as the target of a lawsuit from Pastor Matthews. He announced his intention to sue Holmes for $10 million, a figure he probably arrived at based on her promise to tithe 10% of her winnings.

However, it looks like he forgot to account for the difference that taxes would make, in addition to her previous gift of $700,000 to her home church, plus the fact that she never even promised him that much to begin with. Matthews said, “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.”

NEXT: The pastor comes out looking bad.

20. The public eye is not kind to Pastor Matthews

Suing a church-going woman for an absurdly high sum isn’t a good look on anyone, least of all a pastor. Matthews’ suit did not hold up well under public scrutiny. There is even a YouTuber who has published a series of videos on the case with “F*** You Kevin Matthews” prominently in each title.

So yeah, people weren’t exactly thrilled with his decision to sue. From the looks of things, his lawyer might not have even followed through on his greedy suit. I can find no public outcome from the suit, and at the time when he allegedly filed he refused to give his lawyer’s name to the reporter because the paperwork wasn’t yet complete.

NEXT: After being arrested, bailing her boyfriend out of jail, and getting sued by a pastor, Holmes still has more troubles ahead.

21. The drama continues

Like any good soap opera, there were still a few more unexpected twists and turns ahead of Marie Holmes. The next devastating news after the Matthews suit was information that came to light about McDow’s infidelities. It seemed that Hot Sauce could not keep his hands to himself.

There were even reports of Holmes paying off his mistresses to leave him alone. A video circulated on Facebook of an anonymous woman who claimed that McDow was taking money from Holmes and giving it to other women in exchange for sexual favors. If true, she probably wishes she’d left him in jail and had her money back.

NEXT: Holmes turns to the Oprah Network for help.

22. Holmes’ Fix My Life appearance

In Holmes’ shoes, any of us would probably be ready to throw in the towel. Exhausted from the constant drama and media scrutiny, Holmes turned to a show on the Oprah Network for some much-needed guidance. The show she would appear on is called Iyanla: Fix My Life.

In case you haven’t seen it, Iyanla: Fix My Life is a talk show featuring relationship expert Iyanla Vanzant. Vanzant is a motivational speaker, life coach, and bestselling author who comes equipped with the Oprah seal of approval. If anyone can help Holmes get her life in order and figure out what comes next, I’d say Iyanla is a great choice.

NEXT: Alas, even her Fix My Life appearance is marked with drama.

23. Holmes’ mother reveals a secret

During the show, Iyanla brought Holmes’ mother out to resolve some issues from their family’s past, and her mother took that as an opportunity to reveal a secret. Apparently, though Holmes thought her winning numbers were random, her mother had in fact carefully selected them.

Her mother said, “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.” Though she did pick the numbers, her mother doesn’t regret letting Holmes have the fortune, because she wanted her daughter and grandchildren to have a better life.

NEXT: Marie Holmes really, really can’t catch a break.

24. Even more drama on Fix My Life

In addition to her mother’s secret, Holmes was dealing with more new information during the taping of Fix My Life. During the episode, we learned that McDow was on the verge of heading back to prison, this time sentenced to serve seven years for more drug charges, this time for conspiracy to distribute heroin.

Following the taping, another unexpected surprise popped up. Some of Holmes’ relatives began publicly accusing her of stealing the winning ticket from her grandmother. It seemed the storm of drama and misfortune that surrounded Holmes might never let up. Yet somehow, through it all, Holmes remained dedicated to raising her kids and giving back to her community.

NEXT: Marie Holmes perseveres.

25. The Marie Holmes Foundation

If you live in North Carolina, you might hear about her foundation doing good work in the local community. That’s right, Marie Holmes was successful in her mission to tithe 10% of her winnings, and you can see it in action. She made an initial investment of $9.7 million in her foundation, and much of her money has gone to help underprivileged children.

The Marie Holmes Foundation frequently hosts events such as giveaways for holiday toys and school supplies to help out families who don’t have much to cover those extra expenses. The families she now supports are a lot like hers used to be, and despite her personal hardships, it’s wonderful that she’s using the money to make a difference.

NEXT: If she’s so Christian, why was it okay to play the lotto?

26. A sin to gamble?

Though in some denominations, gambling is looked at as a sin, that isn’t always the case. Christian Post reports one pastor who puts it this way, “You can’t be against the lottery, but your youth department is doing a RAFFLE! Same thing pastor. SAME THING!”

He continues, “You can’t be against the lottery and you have a prize of $500 for whoever brings the most people on family and friends day.” Though some in the Christian community believe that gambling hurts the poor, this pastor had a fair point that games of chance are quite prevalent even in religious communities.

NEXT: So if the church does it, it’s okay? Not so fast, says another pastor.

27. The other side of the story

The debate on whether gambling has a place in Christian life continues. Christian Post reports another pastor who says, “In Scripture, there are instances of casting lots but usually not for material gain. It rather emphasizes the sovereignty of God. For example, Proverbs 16:33 says ‘the lot is cast into the lap but it’s every decision is from the Lord.’”

He went on to say, “Now, having said that, let me tell you that the biblical principles that would dissuade a Christian from gambling are several. First, we must guard against our love of money,” and went on to cite that money is the root of all evil. Though her lottery money brought quite a bit of evil into Holmes’ life, it seems she is also using it for good.

NEXT: If you ever win the lottery, what should you do?

28. What to do if you win

If you ever win the lottery, we hope you’ll remember this story and be very careful. First, be sure to sign your ticket. This certifies that it really does belong to you and will protect you in case it is stolen. Next, find out the specific lottery rules in your state, and make sure you claim your prize money before it’s too late.

If you’ve won a large sum, find a trusted financial advisor who can help you make smart decisions for your future. Finally, keep sticking to your usual budget. It’s okay to make a few little splurges here and there, but it’s important not to let the lottery money go to your head.

NEXT: Should you win the lotto, there are a few “don’ts” to live by too.

29. What not to do if you win

As much as possible, you’ll want to keep your newfound wealth a secret. That’s why the first don’t is: don’t tell anyone. Next, don’t forget about the taxes you’ll have to pay. If they aren’t withheld automatically from your prize, set money aside to pay them later.

The next thing you want to avoid is debt. Don’t let debt keep hanging around. Instead, pay off as much as you can. Finally, don’t make too many lifestyle changes too quickly. You probably won’t win the lottery again, so you want to be sure you spend your money in a sustainable way. Good luck!

Marie Holmes, a hard-working single mother, won $188 million in the lottery and quickly faced betrayal by those she trusted most.