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. ♚Mmmmm♛

    ....my tuRN NEXT...!

    August 31, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Robot Monster

    Wow! With that much money, he can buy a STAIRWAY to HEAVEN!!

    August 31, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Harry Kuheim

    Hey look another Fat Rich Guy Libs can Bully... even though they don't approve of Bulling...it's mean...

    August 31, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Wayne

    Congratulations to you and your family. Live long and propser YY.

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

    Congratulations to you and your family. Live long and propser. YY

    August 31, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tmarcl

    “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.

    It's so nice that God helps deserving people like you win millions of dollars. Granted there's famine and poverty all over the world, but at least he's helping where it counts, amirite?

    August 31, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Easy E

      Geez dude, relax. Who's to say he won't spend his time and some of his money on charitable causes? Stop the whining!

      August 31, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JRide

    Why so many negative comments. Some of you don't like it when someone else gets ahead of you. Congrats to the man.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bertie Drovers

    $337M winner? False advertising, he takes home no where near that. $337M ceremonial check? Fake, fake, fake. Even the real check is no where near $337M.

    Would a company get away with lying like this and not get sued? So why is it ok for the government? Why don't they refer to it by the take-home, after tax, lump sum value? Anything else is BS!

    August 31, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Easy E

      Hey, even if "all he gets" is more like $90 million, that's still a pretty good deal!

      August 31, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Aacon S.

    Id have just invested and then set a payout amount to myself at $750,00 a year with ways to get more if needed then set a pay out to my family and close friends a month.I help people out to.I`d spend a lot of time starting up new businesses so when I leave this old world my money would be always making money to payout to my family as deep as the money would go without running into an amount not able to get by on really well.....Now back to reality :-)

    August 31, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Meh

    So he's a big guy, I won't hold that against him. He seems like a cool down to earth dude regardless. Lucky him,

    August 31, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rose

    That is his choise...Who are you to judge.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. aarontco

    This guy is going to be broke in a year....if he is not dead from cardiovascular disease before then.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jmig320

    Ya know what, I like this guy. I wish him & his family incredible happiness with the winnings. Unlike some leaving comments, I don't get the feeling he's the type to blow the whole winnings. He had a rail job, so it's not like he was poverty stricken before.....thus, I don't think he would have as difficult of time taking care of the money as some other big winners.

    As for the enjoyment of McDonald's, good for him. I'm a healthy, fit person who enjoys McD's over fancy restaurants as well...I eat McDonald's a couple times a week, but I exercise regularly...and when I eat fast food, it is generally my one main meal of the day. Since this guy certainly has time to do what he wants, he has all the time in the world to exercise if he so chooses. Best wishes Mr. Poweball winner!

    August 31, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bayousara

    Hopefully he gets his finances and will in order since he might be visiting a morgue long before he can spend all of this money. Looks jolly but in bad health (had your heart checked lately? How about diabetes?)

    August 31, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Paulene

    God is testing the man..we will see how he responds.. His money problem has just started...

    August 31, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
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