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. barbara

    If he keeps eating at MacDonald's he won't live very long to enjoy it. He already looks like he's had one too many big macs.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nancy

      but they are SO tasty!!!

      August 31, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • joma14

      Watch. He could soon be the Jared of McDonald's

      August 31, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Carol

    Looks to me like he ought to start investing in healthy food or he won't be around long to enjoy that money.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Frah Sancisco

    Yeah right. Give him a few months of the, "Good Life" and McDonalds will be as dead as yesterday to him. I love me a Big Mac every few weeks but if I had this guy's money I would be eating a big, fat, 1 1/4" Cowboy Ribeye everyday for dinner for the rest of my life!! I would buy a spare heart and keep it next to the spare tire on my car. Simple.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • joma14

      Gawd! We as a species are in decline..

      August 31, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TPF

    He did not say indirectly that McDonald's is for poor people, he said he likes the simple life. A regular guy wanting to stay a regular guy, come on man give the guy a break. The comment sounds like it comes from a political pundit, and has to tell us what he thinks, when no one cares what he thinks. Hope the man takes care of his family and people leave him alone and he lives a long and private life. George burns smoked 15 cigars a day and lived to be 100.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      "A regular guy wanting to stay a regular guy, come on man give the guy a break."

      They say you only need "A dollar and a dream". This guy only had a dollar.

      September 1, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. samwade611

    Just like everyone else, the Mcdonalds comment is absolutely hilarious and sad at the same time! I mean, if he was skinny and ate a bigmac every now and then ok, but being overweight and saying youd rather eat mcds than steak or lobster is pathetic, kinda what America has come to. A deeper problem that people mention is the cost of food favors the welloff. But come on dude, if you really think about how your body feels and works after Mcds then you would realize how bad its ingredients are for you

    August 31, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. r

    Congrats. Now hire someone to hold a burger just out of your reach while you jog off 70 pounds.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. givemepizza

    How much are taxes? Will he end up with at least $150 M in the bank? He made one mistake: telling his relatives to retire. LOL. Not smart. And did he actually use the word "ain't"?

    August 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • joma14

      About 110 mil after taxes- he'll manage. Lots of people use the word, 'ain't.' It's a regoinal thing; not a stupid thing.

      August 31, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Blah

    A simple life doesn't mean to destroy your body. How can life be simple if you have to visit the hospital all the the time due to poor diet or worry about your weight due to poor eating habit?.

    O.o

    August 31, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. CHUCK

    THIS GUY IS DOWN TO EARTH AT LEAST!! SOUNDS LIKE DIVINE INTERVENTION PLAYED ITS PART HERE!! AT LEAST THIS GUY WON'T TURN INTO A CONSERVATIVE WHO TRYS TO HOG EVERYTHING FOR HIMSELF AND THEN PRETEND TO BE THE GOOD GUY RIDING THE WHITE HORSE!!!!!!

    August 31, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • joma14

      CHUCk, hit that little CAPLOCK key, Bubba

      August 31, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. GailS

    I love this story. I hope this guy and his family have a great time with this money

    August 31, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • joma14

      I hope they get the right financial planner; not one of the countless weasels who come out of the sewers after good, simple people.

      August 31, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. kotchi

    Maybe grammar and English lessons are cheap...
    “I walked into the … station, and usually there ain’t nobody up there, but there was a long line.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • joma14

      Are you the queen's English cop?

      August 31, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Edward

    Chris Cristie and this guy share a common interest. Over eating.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. karina

    i'd give up on the junk food if I were you, or you won't be around long enough to enjoy your winnings!

    August 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Bobster

    At least get a personal trainer or something dude, jeez.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. D from healthier Canada

    McDs is the real Winner. Free testimonial seen by millions on CNN. McDs in good conscience should donation to "fat people of America".

    August 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • :)

      I take it you've never been to Hamilton? Or Oshawa.

      August 31, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
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