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. churflap

    Cool man, but have you ever TRIED filet mignon or lobster? Treat yourself.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dr nozzle

    Seems like one of the good guys won this time. Enjoy Donald. Even if he blows it all who cares, it's his money fools.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chris

    if he was smart...he would use that $$$ to franchise out a bunch of his own fast food joints.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. science101

    Don't be so hung-up on the "taxes" Donald.

    Thats more money that everyone you've ever known put together would be able to amass in ten lifetimes.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. yomi

    Good. Am hapy 4 him... I hope he sits and tripples the amount, let him just create jobs...and save Obama part of the stress too.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    Best wishes to him and his family.

    August 31, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Becca

    wow buddy, now that you can afford it, try the lobster!

    August 31, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. budgiegirl

    If he lost about 50 lb he could probably be a model. Spend that money on a good diet and exercise program (or splurge on the bariatric surgery).

    August 31, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fernando

      Now that you mention it, I think you're on to something. He could turn out to be a great looking, long-living multimillionaire and really have it all. That part's up to him, I suppose.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. talkic social change

    "I didn't pick them...my hand just went" – I'm thinking a variation of that might be used one day for a defence in court.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. talkic social change

    (and congrats)

    August 31, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. peter k

    be careful of the devil in alot of people

    August 31, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Wisconsin

    I wish him well, and Blessings to his future!

    August 31, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. good one U mate

    Nice story ... no go have some fun!

    August 31, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. paula

    Good for u... Im happy for u!

    August 31, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. great

    Wish him well but suspect his life will be destroyed.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • eddie hurley

      one thing about the old boy all the Democrat's will hate him now that has some money well maybe not since he didn't have to work for it

      August 31, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
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