RALEIGH – A single mother from a small town in Coastal North Carolina has come forward to claim her $188 million Powerball prize, making her the largest jackpot winner in state history.
Until recently, Marie Holmes of Shallotte supported her four children by working jobs at Wal-Mart, Food Lion, KFC, McDonald’s and Subway. The 26-year-old’s life changed forever when her Powerball ticket matched all six numbers in the Feb. 11 drawing, winning her a third of the $564 million jackpot.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, N.C. Education Lottery executive director Alice Garland presented Holmes with a check celebrating her $188 million win.
“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunities this has created for my family,” she said.
Holmes, an occasional lottery player, asked her mom to get her a ticket because the jackpot had grown so large. Her lucky Quick Pick ticket came from the Scotchman on Whiteville Road in Shallotte, a town of less than 4,000 people just minutes from the South Carolina border.
Holmes was in disbelief the morning after the drawing when she realized the numbers on her ticket matched all of the winning numbers in the drawing, beating odds of 1 in 175 million.
“I started screaming and jumping around,” the former high school basketball star recalled. “I said to my kids, ‘You just don’t understand what this means.’”
Holmes sought financial and legal advice before claiming her prize money. After consulting with her attorney, Charles Francis, Holmes opted for the $127 million lump sum payment. The after-tax winnings of $87.9 million, Holmes said, will allow her to cement several important goals. Among other things, Holmes plans to tithe to religious and charitable organizations, finish her college degree, buy her mother a house, and secure the future for her three daughters – and her seven year-old son who has cerebral palsy.
“I hope that this moment can shine a light on the challenges faced by children and adults with cerebral palsy,” Holmes said. “Not everyone understands what cerebral palsy is, and what it means to a family. I hope our story can help change that.”
Holmes’ win marks the sixth time since the N.C. Education Lottery began that a player has won a multimillion dollar jackpot playing Powerball or Mega Millions. Her win eclipses the previous jackpot record-holder Frank Griffin, a retired firefighter from Asheville who won $141.4 million playing Powerball in February 2010.
Besides the jackpot, North Carolina Powerball players won $10.9 million over the course of the 21-drawing jackpot run, including six prizes of $1 million. In addition to $3 million in ticket sale commissions statewide, the store that sold the jackpot-winning ticket received a $50,000 incentive. Powerball ticket sales during that time helped the lottery earn $16.6 million for education.
Ticket sales made it possible for the lottery to raise more than half a billion for the state last year. For details on how lottery funds have made a difference for specific education programs across North Carolina, click on the “Where the Money Goes” tab on the lottery’s website.