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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soundoff (648 Responses)
  1. T.J.

    Be happy for the man...I hate how so many people sit back and talk so much B.S. when the other person is set for life...Quit tripping and get a life people....all you just wish to be sitting on 224 mil.:)

    August 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • annon

      yes it is good to be happy for other people you must be one of those that has money thats why you said that there are people in this world that have to work for what they have this guy just got lucky. yah i wish i had that kind of money also that much money can change you into a person you dont want to be witch you just made my point

      August 31, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Linda Brown

    OMG! People come on! You all sound like a bunch of squabbling kids on a playground fighting over the monkey bars! And quite petty too? I am very happy for this guy, we all dream about being rich, that we have all the money in the world to do what you will and the fact that he is a blue collar McD eating kinda guy, he can now enjoy things he could never have afforded before? I actually broke down and bought a tix with the mindset, hey, it sure would be great if I won and all I got was one number, but hey a buck can bring you some pretty cool dreams! Sometimes I go to a local casino, usually to see a concert, but the tix's usually offer $20 in free slots and the most I ever won there was $100, if I had known all the ways to win better, I almost walked away with $1,000, had I played one more quarter?? Same thing happened to me in AC. I had gotten some of those "playbooks" where it is mostly buy one get one, but at the Trump Plaza, you got 10 free roulette spins and I won $125, had I known more about the game, I would have won $1250, but hey, I was happy with the $125, I look upon it as more than I walked in with??? I had a very good in AC and while I am not a gambler, I have always wanted to go to Vegas, Ah maybe someday? One can dream can't they?

    August 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cuk

    disgusting to give that much money to one person

    August 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ronald McDonald

      That amount is slightly less than the money mittens has - although to be fair most of mitts money is on vacation in Switzerland and the Cayman islands.

      So if you think one person having that much is disgusting, mitt is trying to make it so people like himslef, and the few people who have even more than that, do not have to pay any taxes at all. By zeroing out capital gains people with that size a pile of loot would sit back, collect the interest, and not pay a dime in taxes.

      Something to think about November 6.

      August 31, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • That would be the way to go

      "give" what are you talking about?? He gambled and won – dont be jealous

      August 31, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Taskmaster

    Donald looks to be a fairly young man. I hope and pray that he will change his eating habits. Not to Steak and lobster but to healthier foods. I hope that he'll live a long life and enjoy his winnings.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • That would be the way to go

      What if it is his desire to burn up the cash and go out with a bang?? Who the heck are you to impose your booooooring values??

      August 31, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sally

    I feel the SAME way! I would keep my job and keep going to places I want to go to with the people I want to go with. Good for you. (I do appreciate some yummy crab legs from time to time, and going to the beach or the lake.) But I don't even play the lottery because I don't want to win. What a pain in the ass 'winning' would be! But if I did win, I'd take care of the bill for the new playground we need at the school where I work. And I'd love to be able to take care of my family!

    August 31, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dorothy

    Congrats on the money I could use $1 million and at that point my life would be on a great road. So look me up change my life too. I've worked constent all my life and have been a blessing to a lot.
    Thanks.

    Dorothy,

    August 31, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Congrats to the winner. Now you get to deal with these types of people coming after you.

      August 31, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gerry

    I am so tickled for him. So what if he wants to enjoy a double quarter pounder with cheese and french fries once in awhile.. GOOD FOR HIM. More ppl should do that once in awhile. Maybe the world wouldn't be so uptight....

    August 31, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Solitaire

      From the look of him, he does it alot more than once in awhile. If he's not type 2 already, it won't be long.

      August 31, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    If your going to win the lottery, you win a small one, say for 3-5 million dollars, and then you set it up as tacking on 2-3k to your paychecks for 40 years. That way, you can upgrade your lifestyle substantially without dealing with hordes of unscrupulous and often dangerous people after your money.

    Playing for any more than that is absolutely stupid.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Solitaire

    I hope he has heirs because McDonalds serves nothing but corn-fed beef fat and high fructose corn syrup and it looks like he's a prime candidate for diabetes.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Torgo

    Finally, proof that bad eating habits are not caused by a lack of cash. When poor people eat bad food, they don't do it because they are poor, they do it because they prefer that's what they prefer.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sylar75

    Ok seriously I wouldn't stop eating McDonalds but I would absolutely enjoy filet mignon a lot more and lobster too. It isn't that he is just an average guy. He just has poor taste in food. He is right that the money won't last forever unless he is smart about it. It would be tough burning through all that money. Now the winners of 1 to 5 million usually end up broke in a few years.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Oprah Doesn't know everyrhing

    He "plans to keep it real," says the headline. How many things are artificial about McDonalds?

    Those poor cows and chickens...

    August 31, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. daswalking

    You's a putz!

    August 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mychael

    Wow, this guy is so progressive...

    August 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ronald McDonald

    You people who would stay at your jobs - please do not play the lottery. If you are just going to continue the same routine you have now don;t bother. I actually like my job, but would retire in a millisecond with that much money. Why on earth would I want to get up early every day, abide by someone elses rules? I would go when and where I wanted. Do whatever I felt like whenever I wanted. In whatever country I wanted. plenty would go to church, scholarships, just fun giving money away to blow people's minds, but most of us have no coneption of what 224 millions really is. You can spend 5-8 million a year and still have what you started with because of interest/investment gains. Easy. Every year.

    Ask mitt. He knows becasue that is about almost as much as he has. ant a car elevator? Why not! A 3 million dollar dancing horse? Why not 2?

    August 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • William

      Its his money so why not?

      August 31, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
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