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. Joel Anthony

    The Really Sad Part Is That Now He Has An Unlimited Budget To Buy McDonalds....You'd Think A Personal Trainer Would Have Been The First Purchase....He Chose To Talk About Big Macs

    August 31, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Clarion

    Yeah, I am sure God had nothing better to do than to guide this man's hands to pick the winning lotto numbers. He lets people starve to death on this earth and suffer horrible diseases, but he helped this guy win the lotto. NOT.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Taskmaster

      The guy gives credit to a higher power for guiding hiim. He won 337 million dollars. You deny that God had anything to do with it. What did you win? NOTHING.

      August 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bman

    Cheers. I agree don't throw the money away, but I do recommend a Gym membership. He's looking a little chubby in that picture, and guess what? Now he can order the double quarter pounder with cheese every day! If he's ruling out seafood and he really doesn't have to work, I fear a heart attack before 60. economically the name of the game for him now is to live long.... Don't you love america!

    August 31, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Duane

    he'll be broke in a few years......a fool and his money will soon part ways.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • ronjayaz

      The correct quote according to my Mom: "A fool and his money are soon parted."

      August 31, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Taskmaster

      Reply to Duane: What concern is that of yours? You say "a fool and his money are soon parted" I say only a fool is jealous of another mans good fortune.

      August 31, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Name*marvelous

    Wow.. that is amazing! That is one big quite of a change to your lifestyle. alot of us get up early in the morning still very tired.. and yet written go to work. i have a severe hip joint pain every single second and i still get up early to go to work. The doctor recommends me to get hip replacement but i cannot afford pay for the surgery. am taking my life one day at a time. U got a good paying job and u got bless with abundance of money! I wish u good luck.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. derektjones

    My wife just told me that she quit her job after working 15 years teaching because she wants to put our children on the bus and be there for them. We didn't win the lotto and its going to be hard and I believe in her decision. God is in charge. Donald Lawson it was it was your destiny to be rich. Don't Change.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. ronjayaz

    He looks like the guy in the Ally ad. U know the one who lets a Hispanic-looking guy go ahead of him and of course the "white guy" loses the chance to win the $50,000 prize. The smirk on the Hispanic's face is so irritating to the white guy that we assume he'll vote against the Dream Act. It's the most hidden racist ad ever produced!

    August 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bman

      Actually no I never saw that ad. We don't watch TV that much in our home. Some evenings at most, Music most mornings, and we tend to sing a lot. I don't really get your point, can you explain?

      August 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike in Seattle

    Fatso is going to a.) blow all of the money and b.) have a heart attack in the next five years.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. glrwhite1951

    Well it looks like his wife will be rich, with his overweight problem and love of McDonald's he might not be around long to enjoy the money.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Debbie

    There are some very jealous people making some very stupid and unkind comments. Those of you making this rude comments should be ashamed of yourselves. Ignore them and enjoy your winnings!!!

    August 31, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sebastian2

      Reading some of these spiteful comments, I just have to wonder: Whatever happened to just being happy for someone?

      August 31, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • SK

      Debbie you are y the only person who is right about this. its just great news for the guy. These bad and jealous comments are just bad influence.

      August 31, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • deutsche001

      I agree; some very jealous hearted people indeed!
      I want to congratulate the winner and spend it wisely!
      Enjoy your money and retirement.
      I pray God guides my hand on the next big one.

      August 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dandude

    So hes fat? why is he proud of this

    August 31, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. John

    Stereotypical lotto winner. He'll be on the streets in a few years and featured on some TLC program about lotto winners who went bust. Maybe McDonald's will hire him.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. ET

    Hide your money quick before all the democrats try to steal it !

    August 31, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Hadenuffyet

    I say congratulations , your odds were phenomenal, but you could miss a meal.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Max&Friends

    Wow, be like Warren Buffet.............enjoy, take care of those deserving and don't develop a big ego. Enjoy it. It sounds like you are a decent human being.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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