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. Joe

    As a wealthy man he should cut the McDonalds out of his diet.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • ionymous

      I agree with you. He should cut McDonalds out of his diet. But in reality there are plenty of healthy options that cost the same as McDonalds. I think people just use low cost as an excuse to eat crappy food.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • justin

      I think Joe means he should cut Mcdonald's out of his diet because it brings you closer to death much more rapidly than if you did not partake.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ionymous

    So awesome! Congrats!

    August 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Frank

    Good for the man.

    I have always been taught by my parents that never forget who you really are, and where you come from.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jaquanda

    I hope he has to pay lots and lots of taxes. I need me some more Obama money, girlfriiiiiend.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wallace

      Spoken like a true Obama supporter....get a job!

      August 31, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      @Josh/ You must be really naive (like most of your compatriots) if you actually believe this comment was made by a girl named Jauanda who "wants some of that Obama money."

      More likely, this comment–and the fake username–were done by one of your fellow Conservatives and you are just to vapid to understand sarcasm.

      Enjoy Obama's next four years as well.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      My comment was actually meant for Wallace, not Josh.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kate Scott

    I wish people that won this sort of money would sit back and truly think about all the good that they could do with even a fraction of that money.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Canada: America's Hat

      People always say that about prize winners. They can do whatever they want with it.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • WTHWTH

      Why whine about what other people should be doing with their own money, Kate? He is going to pay his taxes on his winnings, and his moral and legal obligations end right there. Anything beyond that is strictly his own business.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jerome Horowitz

    Careful, there will be alot of folks who will want to "help" you handle the money.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Shazbot

    Two words:

    blind trust.

    Yer simple laahf is about to become a lot less simple.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. God Intentions, prove it

    Good to hear a normal working guy has won the lotto. Please followup with a status of his goals in a year or so.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dave

    On the next episode of "When keeping it 'real' goes wrong."

    August 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. huh

    Hey, he didn't build that. Where's my cut?

    August 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. intexas

    You are a wealthy man now, just make sure to invest wisely and you know plenty of relatives and friends will be coming out of the wood work. Be cautious and I agree don't change your life style if you still want to eat McDonald thats fine but moderately, you don't want to clog your arteries yet. Good luck to you and your family.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Good Intentions, prove it

    No reference to God in the original post, a typo, please repost "Good to hear a normal working guy has won the lotto. Please followup with a status of his goals in a year or so.".. Thanks.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David

    Hell be in the poor house inside of 7 years having blown it all. lol

    August 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Erl

    Another winner who is not me. Rigged.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yetta

      Totally rigged!

      August 31, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bob

    What a jerk.

    Wins $337 million and complains about the taxes.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      I would complain if I had to pay any more than Romney's 14%.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
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