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. Mordac

    Good thing he took the lump sum payout, it'll come in handy for the triple-bypass.

    September 1, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Guest

      Big 10-4...

      September 1, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. all

    I hope the best for him but from the tone of this article, it sounds like he is going to blow it all in less than 2 years. If that. He's better off buying a McDonald's franchise if he wants to continue "raking" in the dollars. Otherwise, with the way he's already spending it, it will be gone faster than he can say "I won the Powerball"

    September 1, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. all

    Over 100 mill went to taxes. I wonder if it helped fund anything besides the RNC.

    September 1, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • T-Bone

      the 100 million went because its a lump sum idiot.
      the 337 million payout is based on the interest the pot would acrue over the 20 years of payments.
      the 224.6 million is what will be taxed and it will go the the US Govt.
      Grow up and stop drinking the kool-aid

      September 1, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. Candw1

    Unlike most of these other comments that are here from people green with jealousy and envy. I wish you and your family to have a wonderful carefree life after winning your money, how lucky for you. People today are so filled with hate toward anyone that has money, that even winning the lottery makes you the enemy. But Don don't let them get to you...just have a good life and have fun, and give some to charity that is what money is for. And remember how incredible lucky you truly are.

    September 1, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bayousara

      Actually, I think most posters ARE concerned about this guy's health. He looks overweight to the extreme. I sure don't envy him for that, I know what he will have to go through when and if he decides to get healthy. Having money won't stop how much you eat, but eating at McD's is a short road to the cemetery. Go to one sometime, sit there for an hour, and listen to the activity. Nothing is happening except for birds and small critters. That is because, well, you know why.

      September 1, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      I don't HATE the guy! But from everything I've seen, he's not going to be smart with this money and has no idea what he's doing. He thinks everything's going to stay the way it was, with him a multimillionaire and everyone in the world knowing his name and face? He told his relatives to retire and now he's going to have to support ALL of them for the rest of their LIVES? That money's going to be all spent in five years tops, if he's not swindled out of it first.

      September 1, 2012 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. dofrenzy

    Goint to keep eating McDonald's...proof of the age old adage....money can't buy braininess.

    September 1, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Babula Matongo

    I am really envious of his win. He does, however look like part of the McDonald`s crowd.

    September 1, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Guest

    Well, all I can say is keep eating McDonald's with your present obvious overweight condition and your family will inheirit your estate, spend some of that money on a high end rehab/conditioning spa and then enjoy life, you'll be glsd that you did...

    September 1, 2012 at 11:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. T-Bone

    Just love all the haters out there.
    Who is to say that once retired, the travel and enjoyment of life may just bring his weight down and stress level down.
    Its so much fun to watch people who cant be happy with their own life project their hatred on those who have some measure of success.
    Now, everyone except this guy..... get back to your pitiful worthless jobs.

    September 1, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. kramer

    I don't understand people. Really? You're going to judge who this person is from one random quote? Did it ever remotely enter your brain that his statement is merely metaphorical? He doesn't get a kick out of expensive things and used McD's as an example. Do you really think he'll eat every meal there? And that he ate every meal in his life there up to this point? Maybe he's out of shape. So are most of you. Get over yourselves.

    September 1, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Anna

    How Michelle O must be blowing her stack ;))

    September 1, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. StevenQ4837Dt447829uI&2#&?y

    II wish this man and his family the best but eating at McDonalds, just not a good idea. With the time you have now do some life enhancing things for yourself and your family. Eating McDonalds is just not good, period. The gov't should fight the war on fast food more than the war on drugs. But big business always has a way of making crappy things for people seem ok. Remember when doctors endorsed smokes in the 50's? America, what a country!

    September 1, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Pete

    After the Gov.got done taking him to the cleaners,I bet he had relatives coming out of the woodwork he didn't even know he had.

    September 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. mike

    The Death Tax is going to benefit the gov't again real soon unfortunately. Mc Donalds is gonna kill any long term dreams. Go Lotto!!!!

    September 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Robert

    He should DEFINITELY keep eating at McDonalds! That way, he can be sure to keep his figure!!

    September 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Michael

    Or, hire a personal chef so he can eat healthy and not die in 3 years from a heart attack. Either way.

    September 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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