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Single mom jumped, screamed when she won Powerball prize

Story highlights

  • "I was jumping up and down in the house," Powerball winner Marie Holmes says
  • The 26-year-old single mom accepted a $127-million lump sum payment
  • Now she says her four kids are "going to be able to live a comfortable life and not worry about struggling"

(CNN)Marie Holmes was watching cartoons with her kids when she won the Powerball jackpot.

But at the time, the 26-year-old single mom in North Carolina had no idea she was about to be $127 million richer.
    It wasn't until the next day, when she saw a friend post online about the lottery numbers, that she realized she had the winning ticket. Even then, she didn't believe it until she double-checked the numbers with her mother.
    Then, she screamed.
    "I scared my kids because I was jumping up and down in the house," she said, beaming on Monday after North Carolina lottery officials handed over a giant check with her name on it as confetti rained down from the ceiling.
    Their startled reaction was just the first of many ways Holmes said her children -- ages 7, 4, 3 and nine months -- are going to see their lives change because of the prize, she said.
    "This is going to make a huge difference for them," she said. "They're going to be able to go to school, not have to worry about paying for it. They're going to be able to live a comfortable life and not worry about struggling."
    Holmes is from the coastal town of Shallotte, North Carolina. The winning ticket, Holmes said, was in a $15 batch her mom picked up for her at a convenience store on the way to church.
    The other two winning tickets of this month's Powerball jackpot were purchased in Texas and Puerto Rico, and the three winners split a jackpot listed by lottery officials at $564 million. Split three ways, that comes to $188 million each, if the winners took the payout over time. A lump-sum payment is smaller, but still, $127 million is no small change. Even after taxes.
    Holmes' win is the largest in North Carolina's history, officials said.
    Holmes told CNN affiliate WECT last week that she thought she was going to have a heart attack when she found out she'd won.
    "I don't know if I want to cry, smile, what, I'm just grateful for this moment. I'm thankful that I can bless my kids with something that I didn't have," she said.
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    But she was more measured on Monday.
    "I'm not sure how I feel right now," she said. "I don't believe it yet."
    Holmes has supported her children in the past with jobs at Walmart, Food Lion supermarket, KFC, McDonald's and Subway, lottery officials said.
    She's been living with seven of her family members in one home. Now she's hoping to get each of them their own place to live.
    Since the day earlier this month when she realized she'd won, Holmes said her life has already changed. She was sandwiched between a lawyer and financial adviser as she accepted her winnings Monday. Security, she said, now has to accompany her whenever she goes outside -- something she's still adjusting to. She told reporters Monday she wants to keep her kids out of the spotlight to make sure they're safe.
    She said she's still consulting with advisers about how to spend the money, which she's accepted in the $127 million lump-sum payment (totaling $87.9 million after taxes).. For now, she said she plans to donate to churches and cerebral palsy charities. She's also hoping to travel, possibly leaving the United States for the first time to visit Paris. And she wants to go back to school.
    The prize, she said, means everything to her as a mother.
    "Anything my kids ask for, I can actually get it for them, and I don't have to tell them, 'no,'" she said.
    Asked by a reporter if she would still tell them no anyway for good reasons, Holmes smiled and didn't hesitate.
    "Yes," she said.