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Before she hit the Powerball jackpot, unemployed mother of four was struggling

Before she picked a winning Powerball ticket from a North Carolina convenience store on Wednesday, Marie Holmes was struggling.

The 26-year-old from Shallotte, N.C., had been forced to quit jobs at Wal-Mart and McDonalds to take care of her four kids, one of whom has cerebral palsy, according to NBC affiliate WECT. More recently, she said, she was looking for work.

“I’ve been struggling since I had them,” Marie said, referring to her kids, according to WECT. “But I wouldn’t trade [anything] because they’re a blessing. I’m just thankful that I can actually do for them without anybody’s help. I don’t have to worry about struggling anymore.”

“I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I saw the ticket and checked it,” she added. “I was telling my kids that we don’t have to struggle any more, and I was yelling when I did it, so they ran and said I’d scared them.”

For now, the only struggle for Holmes will be deciding whether to take $188 million over 30 years or a lump sum of $127 million before taxes, according to NBC News. Officials say two other winning tickets were sold in Texas and Puerto Rico, but those winners have not yet come forward, according to the New York Daily News.

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A surprisingly calm Holmes told WECT the reality of winning has just begun to set in, but she has a few plans already. She intends to buy a new home, a car and “everything she’s ever wanted,” though she’s not yet sure what that will be, she said. She also wants to set up bank accounts and college funds for her children, she said.

“This is all for them, everything is all for them, all the struggle that I ever went through is all for them,” she told WECT. “They can go to college, all on me and they don’t have to worry about anything. … I’m thankful I can bless my kids with something that I didn’t have.”

A Powerball spokesman told CNN that he couldn’t confirm Holmes is a winner.

“We have not been presented a winning ticket, ” he said. “We advise anyone who believes they have a winning ticket to sign and secure their ticket, get sound professional advice on the financial and legal issues that will arise, and think about how they want to move forward with their lives after they claim the prize.”

Holmes told WECT she’s doing exactly that. She said she was already planning to consult with financial advisers and lawyers before “getting away for a little while.”

As soon as the money hits her bank account, Holmes said already knows where her first check will go.

“First I’m going to pay my tithe, because I wouldn’t have none of it if it wasn’t for God,” she said.

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