Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Disaster of the Big Fat Lottery Win

LotteryApparently, winning the lottery can kill you, among many other things that could quite possibly be worse than death. 

Marie Holmes, a 26-year-old single mother of four was working two jobs when she won the lottery, which was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Although Holmes had one of three winning tickets, she would still receive a third of the $564 million pot, which is a lot of money. 

Marie Holmes had the choice of either receiving the money as a lump sum ($127 million) or a total installment amount of $188 million. Understandably, Holmes decided to go with the lump sum. 

With the winnings, Marie Holmes began making plans to make donations to her church, buy a house, and set up college funds for her kids. Unfortunately, included in the expenses would be tax payments which prove to be substantial with your winnings are as great as Marie Holmes'. 

Then came the media attention. Soon after Marie Holmes' windfall, the media began portraying her as a "frivolous and foolish person" based on how she spent her prize money. On top of that, it became difficult for Marie Holmes to keep a low profile.

Marie Holmes, like many of us would in the same situation, began spending lavishly and even began spending money on her boyfriend and his bail, which totaled up to $21 million. 

Since winning the lottery, Holmes had been arrested for possession of marijuana following a search of her house pursuant an arrest of her boyfriend McDow. On top of that, Marie Holmes and her family fell victim to racism from their mostly white neighbors. 

Next came the Pastor of Marie Holmes home church who eventually asked her for $1.5 million to build a retreat. According to the suspicious Pastor Matthews, Marie verbally agreed to give him that $1.5 million. Matthews eventually brought a lawsuit against Holmes for $10 million which is 10% of her winnings, which she originally promised to give to the church. Matthews brought the suit despite Holmes' previous gift of $700,000. 

Eventually, Holmes' had to start paying of McDow's mistresses to leave him alone. 

Holmes eventually turned to a show on Oprah Network to obtain some advice, but that avenue failed as well. 

Despite all the bad, Holmes persevered and created the Marie Holmes Foundation which helps poverty stricken families. 

For more stories of lucky (and unlucky) lottery winners visit the link below. 

See Gur Tirosh, The Disaster of the Big Fat Lottery Win, Living Magazine, last visited March 3, 2021. 

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.


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