August 31st, 2012
02:50 PM ET

$337M Powerball winner plans to keep it real

Donald Lawson intends to do the typical lottery-winner stuff: Retire, take care of his family, travel, get a new place to live.

But the 44-year-old Michigan man insists his $337 million Powerball prize the third-largest in Powerball history, and seventh-largest jackpot in U.S. history won’t change him.

“I’m a millionaire now, but I’ll still go to McDonald’s,” Lawson told reporters Friday at the Michigan Lottery headquarters in Lansing, where he came forward to collect on the August 15 drawing. “I don’t like filet mignon or lobster. I like the simple life, and that’s what I want to continue to do.”

Lawson, of Lapeer, was the sole winner of the August 15 prize. He chose the lump-sum cash option, which gives him $224.6 million, before tax, at once.

He said he quit his railroad engineer job after learning he won. He said he chose the winning numbers 6, 27, 46, 51, 56 with a powerball of 21 himself at a Sunoco gas station in Lapeer.

“I walked into the … station, and usually there ain’t nobody up there, but there was a long line. But something from above I do have to credit that told me to go over there and pick my own numbers. I didn’t pick them my hand just went,” Lawson said.

Lawson said his two children will now be set for college, and he told his close relatives to retire, “and they had no problem with that.”

He said he plans to travel a lot, but for now, he’s going to “go somewhere safe and think about (what to do) and go from there.”

“This money won’t last forever unless I use it right and budget it right. It’s not a lot, $337 million,” he joked, drawing laughter, before addressing the issue of taxes. “You all think it’s tremendous amount, but I’m kind of pissed at Uncle Sam … you know?”

Eight other tickets won the $1 million Match 5 prize on August 15. Two of those tickets were bought in Indiana, and the others in Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Virginia, lottery officials said.

The game's largest prize to date was $365 million, which was awarded in 2006 to a group of eight co-workers at a Nebraska meat-packing plant.

That record drawing happened when the cost for a Powerball ticket was $1. In January, the price increased to $2, with officials saying it would lead to an increased number of large jackpots. At the same time, the odds improved somewhat because officials reduced the number of red balls, the powerballs, from 39 to 35.

At $337 million, the Powerball pot still has ways to go to catch MegaMillions at the top of the list of U.S. grand prizes. In March, three tickets were sold for a drawing with the top prize of $656 million.

– CNN's Chris Boyette contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Lotto • Michigan
soundoff (648 Responses)
  1. Dead Lenny

    Pssst... Mr. Lawson.... Michigan needs a Jack In The Box franchise....

    Burgers, Mr. Lawson..... Buuuurrrrgggeerrrrsssssss........................

    September 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Barb

    Congrats, Mr. Lawson! Money does not have to change people for the worst. Stay true to yourself and your values. Remember that your family is the most important possession and protect them and the future of your children and one day perhaps grandchildren. Invest your money wisely. Remember too that once your friends and others realize your net worth, they are going to have needs and wants and you will be the target so safeguard yourself. Make your life and your fortune matter do something wonderful make a difference give back to a cause volunteer your time, sponsor a project financially become someone that earns respect and not just because you now have money. Spend your money here in the USA. Never forget where you came from and remember those who are with out jobs and struggling to keep their homes we are living in tough times, help to make a difference. Set an example for your children who are the future leaders of tomorrow. Thank you and all the best to you and your loved ones.

    September 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sadman

    Why does no one with imagination ever win the lotto, never anyone with an actual idea what to do with the money. Instead we get a moron who plans to continue going to Mcdonalds till he gets colon cancer at age 50, and credits the 'all mighty' with helping him pick his numbers. Why would god choose to squander his divine influence on rewarding this brain dead schmoe with 300 million bucks? Is he planning on opening an orphanage or funneling the money into starvation in Africa. No, he's going to Mcdonalds and then going on holiday, probably to Disneyland.

    September 3, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Malakie

      I would do whatever I want as well... I would not be 'sending' my money overseas to help opening an orphanage or funneling the money into starvation in Africa. If I did do anything to help anyone it would be right here at home in our own country. You need to get off your high horse. He won, you did not. He can do whatever he wants and your opinion matters not. When you win you can waste your money overseas all you want. But do not condemn others because they are not doing what you think they should do. Get real...

      September 27, 2012 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dave R

    Good for you Donald. Enjoy. I think we are related!!!!!

    September 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 2010Gibby@gmail

    To Mr. Lawson, Congratulations, GOOD LUCK and May your tomorrow be as great and your today.

    September 5, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. craig

    This guy would make a great Ronald McDonald.

    September 7, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. Poetry

    Remarkable things here. I'm very glad to look your article. Thank you so much and I'm taking a look forward to touch you. Will you please drop me a mail?

    September 7, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Poetry

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    September 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Poetry

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    September 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. charlie

    I'm your nephew.. Yay! now we can become one happy family

    September 21, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. james j shaw sr

    I'm not to proud to beg=I'm disabled, and can't work=living in poverty every day really suck=before the accedent that put me in this wheelchair=I made $90,000.thousand dollors a year=now it's $17,500.dollors a year, and my wife had to quit her job to take care of me=so come on now let yourself feel good about yourself by helping a down on my luck cripple

    September 29, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
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