Marie Holmes, the 26-year-old single mother from North Carolina who was one of three $188 million winners of a $564 million jackpot, says she ran outside and screamed when she realized she won.
“I said, ‘We made it!,'" Holmes recalled today on "Good Morning America."
Holmes, of Shallotte, North Carolina, was fixing her children breakfast the day after the Feb. 11, drawing hen she saw the winning numbers on Facebook.
“I just happened to check Facebook and my friend had a post up with the numbers on it so I looked at the numbers and I had my numbers in my hand and I was like these are the same numbers on my ticket,” Holmes said on “GMA.” “Then I started screaming and stuff and my kids ran away from me and said I scared them.”
Holmes said her mom, who purchased the winning ticket for her on her way to church, was the first person she called. Once they double-checked the numbers on her mom’s phone, Holmes had the exact reaction you would imagine a newly-minted multimillionaire would have.
“I started screaming outside,” Holmes said.
While her mom was convinced because she saw the numbers in person, Holmes says the rest of her family did not believe she had won the $564.1 million jackpot, the fifth largest lottery prize in U.S. history.
“I called my sister and I told her…she was like, ‘Stop playing with me. I’m asleep. You didn’t hit the lottery. Send me a picture,’” Holmes said. “So I sent her a picture and then I called my uncle and told him the same thing. He told me, ‘Man I’m at work don’t be playing with me.’”
Holmes had been living with six other people –- including her four children, ages 9 months to 7 years –- prior to her lottery win.
“I don’t have to worry about staying with my mom anymore. I can have my own place,” she said. "We're going to have our own everything."
“They can have their own house and stuff so it’s going to impact not only mine but the people around me," Holmes said of her family.
Holmes accepted a check yesterday for $188 million from North Carolina Education Lottery officials. After taxes are taken out of her lump-sum payment of $127 million, Holmes will take home $87.9 million.
“I still don’t believe it,” Holmes said. “I don’t know when I’m actually going to believe it.”
Holmes says she plans to travel, put away money for her children’s education and use the money to continue her own education in nursing.
She also plans to donate money to her church and to organizations associated with cerebral palsy, the neurological disorder that afflicts her 7-year-old son.
“He can get all the help he needs,” Holmes said of her eldest child. “He gets one-on-one time now but he can get more help.”
And though life will certainly change in some ways for Holmes’s four children, she says she plans to keep things as normal as possible.
“They’re not getting everything they want,” Holmes said. "I was told no so you’re going to get told no. You have got to learn.”
“You’re not going to get everything. I can buy you everything but I’m not,” she said of her lesson to her kids.
In addition to Holmes', the two other tickets - with the numbers 25, 11, 54, 13 and 39, with a Powerball of 19 -- were sold in Puerto Rico and Texas. The odds of winning were about 175 million to one.