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. dalanije

    I am so happy for you!! Congrats!!

    August 31, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. albert

    If this obese man doesn't start eating healthy, he wont live to spend the money.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kevin q

    Take it from a sailor, once he discovers what's out there, he's gonna have a good ol' time.

    August 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Babak from LA

    Good ffor him ... One of us that got away from the rat race .....

    August 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cookie the cook

      If statistics are anything, not for long. Lottery winners get hounded by friends and family until they go broke. And often live beyond their means. It's a bad thing, I'd rather not win 100 million. I'd rather win 500,000. It's not enough money to fight you for.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tomadzo

      He did reply that he told "close"family to retire so he's sharing it with them. Let's hope he learns to cut out those who blatantly ask for money and try the guilt complex. Unfortunately most will expect help and lose him altogether.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. albert

    "something from above – I do have to credit that – told me to go over there and pick my own numbers" Yeah, with all the poverty in the world, God spoke directly to this guy so that he could win millions, while 1/4 of the rest of the world goes to bed hungry. Pathetic. FYI, if you are hearing voices, seek help ASAP.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lolz

      You mad bro?

      August 31, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • gdaym8

      wow, you sound really bitter. I feel sorry for you.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fernando

      albert, Did you ever consider that God may like easy-going, positive people who don't rain on other people's parade? Do you really think God would like to have a beer or go to McDonalds with you?

      August 31, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. popcorn

    Dear, Donald Lawson

    Please use your money and create jobs.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. HM8432

    Big Mac's for everybody!!!

    August 31, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JP

    Well, at least we know it will go back into the economy right away.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MrsStoner

    Very happy to hear this guy won and can retire from the railroad. If he is an engineer on the rails that is very hard work and dangerous. What I don't get is why he is telling close relatives to retire and they are OK with that. If they have decent health coverage at work is he willing to purchase plans for them too? Think about if one relative has a major health issue. That is a lot of money but if anyone ever dealth with the expenses of an illness with or without health ins, you know the money could be gone in no time.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • albert

      This is one of many reasons why the majority of lottery winners go broke. You have to be smart with your money.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      Yeah, agreeing to completely support his relatives for the rest of their lives will probably turn out to be a huge mistake.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lew

    All that money and no taste for good food. Shame.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jubei

    Why is this dude posted all over the nation? The media is making him a target!!! I wouldnt want my face plasterd everwhere If I won that kind of dough!!

    August 31, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      Powerball is played in a lot of states. They want to show people a winner. But yeah, now every crook and con artist and beggar knows exactly what he looks like. His days of being able to walk around without being hounded for money are over.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scott

    Now that you can afford to be healthy....You may want to do that so you can live to enjoy your winnings.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ipmutt

    good for you. Live long and prosper

    August 31, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. keith

    Anytime money changes hands it is taxed. Seriously you need this explained to you?

    August 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tastycles

    "chose the lump-sum cash option, which gives him $224.6 million, before tax, at once"

    He'll be broke in 10 years. Only stupid people choose this option.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      Most financial adviser say never take the lump sum, that way you know you'll have income for at least 26 years. I think the only time it makes sense to pick the lump sum is if you're elderly and might not have 26 years left. Otherwise, yeah, that's exactly the problem – people who take the lump sum blow through it much more quickly than expected and end up broke.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
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