She talked about finishing her college degree, buying a house for her mother and setting aside money for her three daughters and her son with cerebral palsy.
“I started screaming and jumping around,” Holmes remembered afterward. “I said to my kids, ‘You just don’t understand what this means.’”
Six years later, Holmes’s lottery win is the subject of a lawsuit filed by her former fiance, who claims she used some of the money to buy him lavish gifts and then gave them away while he was serving time for a drug trafficking conviction.
Lamarr Andre McDow, 36, alleges that Holmes closed his auto restoration business, got rid of his Chevy Silverado and sold 77 acres of land that she had given him for a dirt bike and ATV track, according to the lawsuit, first reported by WECT.
In a pointed rebuke, Holmes’s attorneys argued that McDow never truly owned the gifts.
“This case is the embodiment of the phrase ‘[w]hat’s yours is mine and what’s mine is my own.’ The problem here, however, is that McDow has nothing of his own,” the lawyers wrote in a memo supporting a motion to dismiss the case. “Instead, McDow is Holmes’ disgruntled, currently imprisoned former fiance with multiple criminal convictions and an unfortunate desire to pursue meritless litigation.”
Holmes and McDow met in 2012 while she was working at McDonald’s and living with her mother and children in Brunswick County, N.C. They soon started dating and eventually had two daughters together, according to the lawsuit, filed in September and transferred to federal court this month.
Sheriff’s officers arrested McDow on drug charges in November 2014, two months before Holmes became the largest jackpot winner in North Carolina history, the lawsuit says. She chose to receive a lump-sum payment and took home about $87.9 million after taxes.
She paid $21 million of that to bail McDow out of jail several times.
“We are a couple, and I am the father of her youngest child. This is what people do for each other,” McDow told the New York Daily News in 2016. “She has the money and she can do what she wants with it. If I had that money then I would do the same for her. People are just jealous because of how much she won and people want to see me locked in jail.”
McDow and Holmes moved in together in January 2016, the lawsuit says. He was sentenced three months later and remains in prison with a scheduled release date in 2023, state records indicate.
Before McDow reported for his sentence, the couple filmed an episode of “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” a reality show on the Oprah Winfrey Network. In that episode, the lawsuit says, Holmes told host Iyanla Vanzant that she had bought McDow several gifts, including property worth $600,000. That property became M’s Automotive Center, which the episode framed as “an automotive restoration business for Lamarr.”
“The response I’ve been getting from the media is, like, oh, I’m dumb, I’m going to be broke,” Holmes said on the show, of the response to her lottery win. “Or, ‘She could be doing so much more with her money.’”
Holmes had also given McDow several other luxury items, the lawsuit says, including a 2015 Chevy Stingray worth $250,000, clothes and jewelry valued at six figures, and an array of landscaping equipment. Then engaged to be married, McDow allegedly assigned Holmes his power of attorney before his prison sentence and authorized her to store his belongings.
But after the relationship ended in 2017, a family member revealed to McDow that Holmes had given away his personal items, the lawsuit says. Among the property allegedly disposed of: the 77 acres of land, his auto business, his Chevy truck and his clothing.
McDow’s attorneys argue that Holmes “failed to act openly, fairly and honestly by secretly giving away” McDow’s property. They are seeking tens of thousands of dollars in damages, along with other compensation.
Holmes’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment but argued in court filings that McDow does not legally own the items that he cited — valued at $1.4 million — because the titles are in Holmes’s name. The lawsuit also describes some of the property vaguely and therefore fails to properly notify Holmes of the claims, her attorneys added.
Holmes also is contesting the lawsuit on procedural grounds, including on the statute of limitations and how the suit was served.