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. Joe

    Pelosi and Reid have another 1%'er. Obama has another "Didn't Build That" example to tout, and Uncle Sam, the State and Local Gov't have over $100 million to spend. Winners abound everywhere. Happy Days

    September 1, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimmyFlim

      Joe? Joe the plumber? Is that you?

      September 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • JPX

      Hey Joe the Plumber!

      September 2, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. mikeosity

    Man, I wish I could get in his will. he will be gone in about 10 years.

    September 1, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lottie

    Lot of negative comments from the jealous losers here. Grow up and wish him well instead of harm, you bunch of posers.

    September 1, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joey Cazzo

    This dude better start considering salads !

    September 1, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hemet Jeff

    Keep eating at McDonald's...you'll have plenty of money now to go on the "frequent bypass" program.

    September 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. WildMontana

    Like he isn't fat enough already? I bet ten bucks that within a decade all the money is gone, he's dead and his family is in much worse financial straits.

    September 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kim hyun

    Money is most powerful in world so u must use right dont use wrong!

    September 2, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. Frank

    He should ask Mitt Romney for tax advice. I understand he knows how to pay almost nothing in taxes on that kind of money.

    September 2, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. TT

    Wow this guy needs to get a brain, contact the Extreme Makeover Weigh Loss dude, get his size down and then collect the money. Then maybe he'll live long enough to enjoy it.

    September 2, 2012 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. hannah1

    Someone needs to win the money who would know how to appreciate it; raise their standards, eat healthy food, etc. The more toxic MickeyD's he eats, the sooner his family will inherit his money. Stuff your chubby cheeks, dude!

    September 2, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. hannah1

    If he doesn't want to change his life, then WHY DID HE BUY A TICKET???? I guarantee if I ever win, my life will change 200 percent!

    September 2, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  12. alperry

    I wouldnt tell alot of people i was a millioniare or that i didnt like filet mignon or lobster....yikes!!!

    September 2, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  13. Buckshot

    Congrats to you and your family. Don't think i'd care for MacD's though. Just take caution on how you plan to distribute that wealth. You"re too generous with what you think you'll get. Plan around your children and wife and only them.

    September 2, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. outawork

    Hey Donald, now you can buy your own McDonald’s.

    September 2, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Thatguy371

    Hope this wacky one makes out a will giving a bunch to worthy charities, because the guy WILL NOT live a long life eating at McD's that's for certain.

    September 2, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
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