Marie Holmes’ lottery win has been built on a lie.
The 27-year-old single mother of four won $188 million in North Carolina’s Powerball lottery in 2015. Since then, Holmes has believed that random chance led to her good fortune. But on this weekend’s episode of “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” the former Walmart worker learned the truth about her “random” winning numbers, which in fact weren’t random at all.
As Holmes just discovered, her own mother, Fontella, carefully selected the winning numbers. When the ticket with those numbers hit the jackpot, Fontella let her daughter believe that it was Holmes’ randomly picked winning ticket and quietly sacrificed her rightful claim to the $188 million prize. Fontella confesses this secret in a sit-down with her daughter.
“I kept dreaming about your brother that we lost,” Fontella tells Holmes. “His birthday, he was the third child, he’d have been 25 that year. Those were the numbers.”
Holmes is stunned. “So you picked the numbers?” she asks.
Fontella nods. “I just wanted you to better yourself, for the babies.”
However, Holmes’ post-lottery life has been marred by reckless decisions that have left her drained both financially and emotionally. Iyanla deduces that Holmes lacked the maturity and guidance needed to transition to her new life of wealth, and processing her mother’s confession proves to be yet another challenge.
Thinking of the pressures of winning the lottery, Holmes says that she wishes she had known that the winning numbers were Fontella’s. “Then it would be her and not me,” Holmes says. “I mean, I would be happy for her for winning it.”
Holmes drops her guard for a moment and then expresses her gratitude to her mother for her $188 million sacrifice. Fontella says it’s a sacrifice she’d make every time if she had the chance.
“If I could do it all over again, I’d have still did it the same way I did it,” she tells Holmes. “I want you to better yourself and be the better mom than I was.”
Though the mother and daughter have long had a strained relationship, Iyanla points out that Fontella’s sacrifice should be very telling for Holmes. “That one act is telling you ― should tell you ― who you are to her,” Iyanla says. “And what you mean to her.”
“Iyanla: Fix My Life” airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.
Another moment from Holmes’ story: