One lucky Powerball winner of $188 million soon found herself in an unlucky situation when her ex sued her from jail.
Imagine winning a Powerball jackpot to the tune of $188 million. And as you start to relish in your newfound wealth, you receive notice that you’re being sued. Your ex-fiancé, who also happens to be in jail, is suing you for his portion of the Powerball victory. You shudder to think of ever being in such a situation. But for one North Carolina woman, this tale is all but fiction.
Marie Holmes and Andre McDow first became a couple in 2012 and eventually had two daughters together. But it was 2015 when Holmes, who had been working five different jobs to support her family, won the largest North Carolina Powerball jackpot in history at the time – a whopping $188 million. She took home $87.9 million after taxes and told officials then that she planned to donate to a few charities and finish her college degree.
At the time, Holmes had been working at Food Lion, KFC, Subway, McDonald’s, and Walmart in Shallotte, NC, a small town just 15 miles from the SC border. And you can imagine her excitement when she realized her Powerball ticket was a jackpot prize winner. She shared with lottery officials just how excited she was, screaming and jumping around. Her chances of winning at the time were one in 175 million. Most everyone who learned of her story agreed she was a deserving lucky Powerball winner.
Holmes was charitable with her newfound Powerball prize wealth and donated to religious organizations. She bought her mother a house, too. Reports indicate she purchased multiple houses, including a plantation property in Brunswick County. There were even a few designer cars in the mix, too. And yes, she splurged on all kinds of gifts for her then fiancé, Andre McDow. These weren’t frivolous gifts, either. Holmes financed a 77-acre dirt bike track and an auto repair shop for him. Those gifts, along with expensive clothes, jewelry, and incidentals she purchased for him, are at the center of the lawsuit in question.
McDow was convicted of drug trafficking in 2016 and, according to public records, received a 10-year prison sentence. And the couple has since split up, as you might expect. But when McDow got word that Holmes sold and gave away that dirt bike track, the repair shop, and all those gifts she’d once given him, he opted to take her to court. His lawsuit cited a “breaching of fiduciary duties” when Holmes gave away property that he believed belonged to him.
Holmes’ attorney and subsequent court findings citing those lavish gifts were technically never McDow’s at all. In legality, each of those businesses and all those expensive things belonged to her. And she’s holding her own to keep her Powerball prize winnings. It’s just another instance of how big money can impact people’s motivations in a big way, and in this case, even from jail.
Marie Holmes got lucky with her life-changing Powerball jackpot win. But her story also serves as a cautionary tale about big money changing people. Her ex-fiancé saw an opportunity to try and save his valuable things from the failed relationship and took it, even from behind bars. Holmes may likely come out ahead on the lawsuit, but not without menacing legal fees and court appearances first.
When you win your Powerball jackpot, be careful about who you spend your winnings on and buy lavish gifts for, with those winnings. Be deliberate about setting up who legally owns what to protect yourself from frivolous and unnecessary lawsuits of your own down the road.