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. Bill, Bloomington Il

    The stupid person is the one who changes their lifestyle and throws the money away. This man should be applauded.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • tcp

      Um, he quit his job and told his relatives to retire. That's KIND OF a life change don't you think...I give him 10 years before he's insolvent.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth will out

      applaud him for what? blind luck? gambling and winning? what were the chances of him winning again? and we should applaud that?

      August 31, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yuck

      Why would you applaud a moron who clings to an unhealthy life style when he now has the opportunity to take care of his family, not by the money, but by remaining ALIVE?. Fat people die long before they should. It is unnecessary. Not everyone can or needs to be a skinny minny....but jeez, can this guy buy some self respect? I'm gonna eat my freedom fries no matter what cuz because jesus loves Michigan, diabetes and tractor pulls. Yeee haw!

      September 1, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Rev-Henry Bates

      How do you know he won't? I would hold onto the applause. And who wouldn't change their lifestyle after receiving this kind of money? It is foolish to think that he won't ... a healthier diet would be a good start.

      September 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • fiveliters

      While I agree on some level,if you work at a low/regular-paying job and a quarter of a billion dollars falls in your lap,um...your lifestyle changes,whether or not you want it to!

      September 4, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. jpegger

    Lets hope he buys some culture and taste... But, I doubt it. This guy is bound to have the largest sword collection, kitschy replica white house, monster truck hummer and an in-house McDonnald's. Ugh... Oh, well! Good for him;) Hope he enjoys it how ever he can!

    August 31, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • saclunch

      Spoken like someone who has neither.

      August 31, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth will out

      or spoken like someone who is surrounded by idiots and is ALL too familiar with wasted potential......sickening, isn't it buddy....

      August 31, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. whyldchld

    He may have to use some of that money for a heart transplant down the road if he keeps eating @ MickeyD's

    August 31, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. saclunch

    Good for you Donald! Eat 3 Big Mac's a day if that makes you happy. The rest of you with your fat jokes are pathetic. I guarantee none of you are lookers. If you were, you wouldn't need to bash others for their looks to make yourself feel better about yours.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. SPENT

    Invest the money in Liechtenstein, keep your job, work for 4 more years, do not touch a dine, then retire and live off the interest accrued and never touch the principal..Just a thought.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Truth will out

      thats a good start......it's the "then what" that defines his lack of vision and small mindedness

      August 31, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chau Nguyen

    The guy seems congenial and down to earth. It makes me happy to see a nice person win. I hope he uses his money wisely.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • lroy

      I hope he gets his winnings in a lump sum. He appears obese and looks like a "walking time bomb" for major health issues. I love filet mignon (only get it on special occasions–to expensive) and while I'll eat lobster prefer scallops or king crab legs (which I haven't had the chance to have in many years).

      August 31, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      Too late. He told his relatives to retire and is now going to have to support all of them for the rest of their lives. That money's going to be gone in about ten years or so.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth will out

      by the size of his wasteline, I can tell you he won't.......just more worthless gluttony

      August 31, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Urduny

    So uncle Sam took a third of his winnings? I wonder if that's the relative he referred to who will retire now !!!! :P

    August 31, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. jessy james

    I won the lotto in va a couple years ago.the same negative crap posted on hear i heard before winning..but as soon as those people talkn crap found out a lotto winner was around the corner they were beggon 4 money.guess who they were...blacks and obama supporters...i still work...still got cash...they still waitn on the black jesus

    August 31, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. MICHAEL

    So many of you on this board are horrible people. The guy won the money...be happy for him. Why make fun of someone's weight or claim that he is intellectualy challenged? Go clean out your own closets that are full of trash. You people making fun of this guy are disgusting and will get your due...KARMA.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jessie

      Yep. It's pretty sad that people are envious of what another has to the point of cruelty.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      I'm not making fun of him. I'm actually pretty worried about him, or as worried as I can be about a complete stranger. He seems very trusting and, um, shall we say not terribly savvy. He says he knows he needs to be careful with the money, but then he told his relatives to retire – that was not smart. I'm guessing he's planning to support all of them now, for the rest of their LIVES, and that's going to add up fast. And he has kids whom he wants to send to college – great, but also not cheap. And he's now going to get swamped by every beggar and scam artist in the country, because he looks like a VERY easy target. Lapeer isn't a big place, it won't be hard at all to track him down.

      He's about to find out what other big lottery winners already know – that when it's revealed that you have money, you can't go anywhere without total strangers hassling you for money. There are probably thieves and con artists on their way to Lapeer right now to cash in. His "simple" life is over, for good. Hope he's ready.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chizoba Offor

    Congrats,use the money wise.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Anne

    Simple life is not McDonalds... that´s crappy food

    August 31, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • lroy

      It's better than Burger King and if I go to Wendys I'll get a salad.

      August 31, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AlkaSeltzaaaa!

    McDonalds will have you dead at 50, better do something with all that money soon.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • kevin q

      Then why do I see half my town's senior citizens there monday thru thursday?

      August 31, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessie

      So you say....but, those senior were eating home cooked meals until the kids were out on their own. Now, at retirement age they do fast food. Trust me, they haven't been eating like this their entire lives. :)

      August 31, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. carlin123

    How many Big Mac's can you buy with $224 Million? I guess were gonna find out.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. MICHAEL

    BTW..all of these Mitt Romney supporters saying he earned it...please. Poor Mitt can't help it...he was born with a silver foot in his mouth. HILLARY 2016!!

    August 31, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. urbanrevivalmedia

    Lottries are voluntary taxation...If I can dream for free, why would i want to pay for it? Highly illogical Captain!

    August 31, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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