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. yneemee

    SO he wants to eat at McDonalds and keep it real ..... big deal – not everyone has to be spoiled by a blessing and move to a McMansion and act like the spolied housewives of wherever – rock on sir, you deserve the blessings coming your way !!!

    September 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. palusko996769

    Rich or poor, why would anyone eat at McDonnald's?

    September 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Frank

    I worry for him. The consequences of winning the lottery will hit him hard, he should have kept it a secret.

    September 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. zaglossus

    Other than a quick meal on the road, I cannot understand anybody with a lot of money actually eating a meal at Macdonalds. Though their fries are pretty good. But the truth is, despite this guys great good fortune, only bozos waste their money playing lotteries. An average person has about a great a chance of becoming President as winning that thing.

    September 1, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. James PDX

    It just goes to show that Lady Luck is more blind than justice.

    September 1, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ALLAMERICAN

    Now that you got Millions better get a health advisor.. Eating at McD.... does not make you an everage person, but ignorant.

    September 1, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rtertyhdf

    Dont like filet minon and lobster, no problem, but why eat the crap mcdonalds serve? There is plenty of middle ground!

    As far as complaining about taxes, i agree but i also don't offer sympathy. If he was part of the elite he would pay about 1/3rd as much in taxes. Because he was an average person he will end up paying the full taxes on it. Or about 80 million. He'll still have ~140-150 million tho, so i don't exactly feel sorry for him. Nothing wrong with having to pay a large chunk in taxes, as long as the playing field is level, but its not.

    September 1, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. yourkiddingme

    “I don’t like filet mignon or lobster...." Really?!
    Live a little....you can do that now.....that's what hitting the lotto for hundreds of millions is for, so you can live the life others yearn for.

    September 1, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. j

    my man needs to stop visiting McD's and go by Jenny Craigs house!

    September 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rev-Henry Bates

      Amen to that. And he needs to lighten up on paying taxes and be glad that he can!

      September 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cheater08

    Congrats to him from one rail to another, all you haters stop it. be happy for the dude. Let him eat all the McDonalds he wants. No said said he eats there all year round.

    September 1, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. RogueDiplomat

    Congrats! Gives me faith in the "poor tax" I pay and play :-) A word of advice- if you want to live longer and enjoy all that money, stop eating a MCDonalds.... That stuff will kill ya! Enjoy!!!!

    September 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MotoJB

    You must be jealous...living in your own trailer.

    September 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Irene Done

    Yeah, at his villa on Lake Como next to George Clooney.

    September 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Roscoe Chait

    If he keeps eating at McD's, he may not live long enough to enjoy his loot.

    September 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Harvey

    I know he wouldn't be eating a Mickey D's if he ever saw the pink snot they use to glue their burgers together. I don't know how they make that stuff; but it is like NASA ... there is nothing natural within a mile of it.

    September 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
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