'First I'm Going to Pay My Tithes,' Says Single Mother of Four Claiming $188 Million Lottery Win; But Should Christians Play the Lottery?

Marie Holmes, 26, Quit Her Two Jobs to Take Care of Children, One With Cerebral Palsy

Marie Holmes, a single mother of four from Shallotte, North Carolina, says he is one of the three winners of the 4 million Powerball lottery.
Marie Holmes, a single mother of four from Shallotte, North Carolina, says he is one of the three winners of the 4 million Powerball lottery. | (Photo: WECT-TV video)

A North Carolina woman with four children says that the first person to get a cut of her $188 million Powerball lottery win will be the Lord "because I wouldn't have none of it if it wasn't for God."

Marie Holmes, a resident of Shallotte, claims she is among the three people who were lucky enough to buy a winning Powerball ticket. The actual jackpot total is $564 million, so Holmes' piece of the pie rounds out to about $188 million, according to WECT-TV in Wilmington.

The 26-year-old single woman has four children, one of whom has cerebral palsy. WECT-TV reports that Holmes previously worked at McDonald's and Wal-Mart but had to be at home full time in order to take care of her children.

Asked what she plans to do with her millions, Holmes said, "First I'm going to pay my tithes because I wouldn't have none of it if it wasn't for God."

Holmes will also reportedly organize college funds for her children and a buy her family a new house. According to WECT-TV, she was seeking advisement from lawyers and a financial adviser before submitting the winning ticket.

The two remaining Powerball winning tickets were purchased in Princeton, Texas, and Puerto Rico. The winning numbers were 11, 13, 25, 39, and 54. The Powerball number was 19.

NBC News reports that the $188 million figure is before taxes, and would be paid over a 30-year period. Holmes, and the other two winners, could also choose a lump sum payment of $127 million.

Does the Bible permit Christians to play the lottery, or participate in other forms of gambling?
Does the Bible permit Christians to play the lottery, or participate in other forms of gambling? | (Photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid/Stephanie McGehee)

Holmes is presumably a Christian since she plans to donate a tithe, or a tenth of her Powerball winnings. Her participation in the lottery and presumed Christian faith raise the question — does the Bible permit Christians to play the lottery?

Pastor John MacArthur has said that he doesn't believe Christians should play the lottery or gamble in any fashion, although the Bible does not "explicitly" prohibit it.

"The Bible advocates gaining money by inheritance, by hard work, and by wise investment, but it never advocates getting rich by gambling or fast money," said MacArthur. "The Lottery is not a legitimate way to make a living or invest for the future, nor is it a good form of stewardship; and it is certainly not a legitimate way to fund education at the expense of already poor people who are going to waste their subsistence on that."

Dave Ramsey, a financial expert, responded to a question from a Christian woman who had "been playing the lottery a bit lately" in an effort to help alleviate her financial struggles.

Ramsey, suggesting that the woman was wasting her money, said, "Stop placing your hope in the wrong things."

"Honestly, as a Christian, ask yourself if you believe God thinks this is a good use of your money," Ramsey added. "The lottery is a tax on poor people and people who can't do math. How do I know this? Because these are the only people who play the lottery!"

In 2012, when the Mega Millions jackpot was $640 million, preacher John Piper presented seven reasons why Christians should steer clear of the lottery.

Piper's primary reason was that playing the lottery is "spiritually suicidal."

He referenced 1 Timothy 6:7-10, which reads in part: "Those who desire to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. ... They have pierced themselves with many a pang."

Piper concluded, "Christ does not build his church on the backs of the poor. Pray that Christ's people will be so satisfied in him that they will be freed from the greed that makes us crave to get rich."

The preacher went so far as to announce to any Christian who does decide to take a chance at the lotto and happens to win, "don't tithe your lottery winnings to our church."

In 2008, one generous church member in Long Island, New York, passed on his winning $3 million lottery ticket to his community of faith — and his pastor was more than happy to receive it.

After his initial shock, pastor Bertrand Crabbe of True North Community Church said he was "overwhelmed with joy and gratitude." After taxes, the church was expected to receive yearly payments of $102,225 until 2028.

Crabbe, who said he planned to use the money to buy a bigger church building and help support other charities, believed God was behind the big win.

"The church took off like a rocket [since opening three years ago]. A big problem for us has been space," Crabbe told the New York Daily News.

He added, "I said to the church, 'Unless God drops a couple million on us ...' I think he heard us. God put that ticket in his hands."

While there is no clear consensus on whether Christians should play the lottery or participate in any form of gambling, believers will likely continue to try their luck, and might occasionally come out as winners.

It is worth nothing, however, that those relying on the lottery for financial boon might eventually find themselves in dire straights. A 2012 study found evidence that the bigger the lottery win, the greater the likelihood that the winner will eventually file for bankruptcy.

Watch WECT-TV's raw interview with Marie Holmes in the video player below:

WECT, weather

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