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. Mark

    Vote Romney. Maybe he'll want to meet a fellow rich guy, and he can show you how to stash your money in the Caymen's.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • DARNELL

      Your house must be full of Kleenex boxes.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yetta

      Ooooooh, nasty! Love it.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • be real

      Or you can just be like Obama and steel more money from those who earned it, then hand it out to lazy people.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. matt

    Doesn't like filet mignon but likes mcdonalds? What an idiot. The money will change him. It always does.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Penn State

      12 noon tomorrow our team will put a whuppin on Ohio ! I'm getting stoked !

      August 31, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • cleareye1

      Sadly, it will change all those close to him also. Many winners live to regret winning as they finally discover the real worth of those he thought he knew. He will lose many in his family to the greed equation.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. earlbowden

    "This money won’t last forever...."

    Damn right, after "...he told his close relatives to retire...."

    August 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RichD

    The lottery is a tax on the poor and mathematically inept that creates imaginary hope for the many that play the dollars they should save or spend on food and children.

    On the bright side this winner seems grounded – I hope he does things good with such a fortune – I know I would!

    August 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Pretty much. Studies have shown that a family that $10,000 a year will spend 5% of their income on lottery tickets.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DARNELL

    This guy is now worth way more than Mitt Romney. So, is CNN going to start writing constant attacks on him too? Hah!

    August 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • cleareye1

      I'll bet he pays his taxes.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • gonzo

      "He chose the lump-sum cash option, which gives him $224.6 million, before tax, at once."

      Hooold on there partner. Romeny's still got him beat.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cleareye1

    These ridiculous lotteries are sapping our strength to resist temptation and dreaming of impossible futures. For this one man to realize a dream, millions have suffered the loss of a small amount of money and their own little hope to win. Consider how preposterous it is to waste money on the lotteries; the numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6 are just as likely to come up as any of your numbers. Only the promoters of these sucker bets make out, and doll out a small amount to the states for permission to loot the chumps. But hey, it's still a dream that could come true?

    August 31, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Cry me a river. Nobody is forced to buy a lottery ticket. Sure it can be fun to buy one and dream occasionally, but if you're dumb enough to spend more than a few dollars a year on the lottery, that's a good indication of WHY you're poor in the first place.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Penn State

    You know that would be enough money to pay our NCAA fines and get our ball team back on track. Just sayin.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. OCCUPY WALLSTREET FOR CONGRESS

    Donate to a third polticial party!

    Occupy Wall Street can use the funding!

    August 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SPW

    I keep it simple all the time and I love filet mignon.

    Best steak meat available, it's really not that expensive either.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Best steak meat IMO is ribeye

      September 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mudsock

    Good for the blue-collar workers and people like Donald Lawson of America! Just a regular guy and I'm happy to read this about him.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Penn State

    Just think of all the exotic dancers he could hire. Nekked ones!

    August 31, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • matt

      I likes me some zoomers. Yeaaaah baby. Shake them things.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nadia

    He paid more in taxes than Romney..next year he will need to get with Romney & his tax people...will most likely get a refund!

    August 31, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • DARNELL

      omg obama is jesus!

      August 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Liberatus

    If he keeps eating McDonalds, he won't live long enough to enjoy his newfound wealth!

    August 31, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus

      You got that right...

      September 1, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. menting

    that fake check that he's holding isn't correct.
    It should only say the actual amount that he received.
    False advertising

    August 31, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Norman

    I love that a 'plain ol common man' has won this fortune. However, if he wants to live long enough to enjoy it, he needs to stop eating at McDonald's. :-)

    August 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
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