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. Robert

    that would suck... wins the biggest lottery which he did. Goes to mcdonalds right after. Dies from a heart attack cause of the food at mcdonalds... lol but lucky guy!

    September 1, 2012 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Amanda

      Isnt that ironic? Dont you think?

      September 1, 2012 at 4:53 am | Report abuse |
    • the last sane person

      True story. There was a case about 3-4 years ago in Ohio. A woman won about $6,000 dollars in the lottery. She went to the bar to celebrate, got drunk and tried walking home in the middle of the road. Hit by a car and killed

      September 1, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  2. sigmond seamonster

    Aww shucks a fast food kinda guy. You mean like most of the Americans who believe they're eating "good food" at those restaurants? Just like they believe the "fast food" Presidential candidates Romney and Obama. Aww shucks. Happy colon cancer. Happy endless war. Happy Meal for you phatty boy. Loser ideeot. Watch some more brainwash TV, propaganda tool

    September 1, 2012 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. rick1948

    I've been invited out occasionally (when I didn't have to pay) to places where the rich eat. Frankly, I don't like that kind of "cute" food. Takes to long to get it and you don't get enough of it when it does arrive.

    September 1, 2012 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      That amount they give you, that's how much you're supposed to eat. Not the 5x too much that you're used to.

      September 1, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tom

    In 5 years he'll be broke! He looks like he'll go through that amount by doing stupid stuff. Will watch for him on "How the Lottery Changed My Life".

    September 1, 2012 at 5:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Wes

      No, he won't. He's a train engineer. This means he knows what it's like to work a very dangerous job. He's going to make sure he doesn't blow it, for he sure doesn't want to go back to doing that.

      September 1, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. JD

    I'm happy for anyone that can change their lives and take care of others. Congratulations!

    September 1, 2012 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. drumbeg

    Hey, now he gets to know what it feels like to be a 1 %er and have to carry the load for all the societal parasites.

    September 1, 2012 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. OriginalPhantom

    Sounds like his plans lead to "broke". Tuck it away and live off its income would make sense.

    September 1, 2012 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  8. Joe

    Reminds me of Family Guy when Peter won free burgers for life and ate until he had a stroke.

    September 1, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. JomoDaMusicMan

    He looks like one of the Lottery Commissioners, I bet it was fixed, He probably owes 50 of his Accomplices $4 mil each

    September 1, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. JomoDaMusicMan

    He's the Joe Da Plumber of the Lottery and how about the The Small Business Owner on TV, Campaigning for Romney stating Obama said me and my Dad didn't build this business by ourselves but we later found out he received Govern Loans & Contracts. We want see him any more campaigning for Romney, anymore. My point is there's millions of Phonies out there

    September 1, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. tacostand

    He doesn't need McDonald's, he needs a trainer.

    September 1, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. FISH FRY

    What's being rich got anything to do with continuing to go to McD? Just means he's gonna buy more, eat more, and die more.

    September 1, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      McDonald's will sure be glad to hear that.

      September 1, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mr. Black

    Dude, hire a chef. American millionaires who still eat McDonald's should be slapped daily.

    September 1, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. Super Size

    All the money in the world to hire a nutritionist and extend life expectancy and this fat sack of human debris is pledging the coronary diet. Awesome. Mega Millions is god's cruel joke that no matter how hard you work, there will always be a self abusing derelict downing sonic burgers while laughing at your broke azz.

    September 1, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Joey Cazzo

      LOL !

      September 1, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jrh

    Great! Now he can afford health insurance to cover all the medical expenses he's going to have from his diabetes, heart disease, and cancer! Good for him!

    September 1, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
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