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. Dan

    His mother will help him spend that.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ann

    Good for him..I always like to see the working class win.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brian mcnichols

    Wolf down lt col

    August 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dave W

    If I won I'd buy a pet monkey. And maybe that girl from Friends. The pretty one.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Matt

    I hope someone tells him to stop eating at McDonalds. Not because he wants to keep it real, but because he'll die before he enjoys his money. Why go to McDonalds as keeping it real anyways? Buy a decent but inexpensive grill and just buy hamburger meat and cook them yourself. THAT would be keeping it real in my opinon.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • srelio

      I agree, stop eating at McDonalds, you can finally afford to eat healthy.
      This way you will live long enough to do something good with all that money.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Striider

    'Really like this guy, except for his suggestion that it was God who picked his numbers. Please... how can anyone believe that God is going to choose the lottery winners? Give me a break...

    August 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard Stroker

      No one cares what you think. If you're so against God then stop using that money his name is on.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Magic God

      You would be surprised hwo many magical minded people there are and that vote. Look at the guy above this post....he thinks our money was printed by God......case in point

      August 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Striider

      @ Richard Stoker: Where in my post did I suggest that I am "against God"? What I suggest, and am certain of, is that God is not going to intervene in the lotteries and decide who's going to be the winner. The notion of it is an absurdity. Else, no one should participate in the lottery unless they are moved by God or the Holy Ghost – in which case, there'd be only one player – and no mega jackpot....

      August 31, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    Yeah right, in 5 year time this guy will be living on Park Avenue and partying with JZ

    August 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. pinkfloyd43

    Good luck and remember it's a gift to change not only your life but as many others as you can!

    August 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Magic God

      giv eme a break

      August 31, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. THX1953

    Broke in ten years

    August 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Need a job

    Lucky guy – he had a job that he can now quit. I would be happy to have a JOB.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • RealistView

      Good luck! I was in your position a year ago and had been out of work for 2 yrs even though I have 2 degrees so I know how hard it is.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glorifundel

      Since he just quit, perhaps you can go get his.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • KD from Canada

      You could always move to Alberta, Canada. Up here there are 10 jobs to every person. You could quit your job today, walk down the street and have another $80,000/yr (or more) job in very short order.

      Alberta is the place to be.

      August 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. RealistView

    I'm jealous!

    August 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Michael

    If I won that kind of money I would buy Idaho, name myself King, and then invade Wyoming and rename the whole territory in my honor.....

    August 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • srelio

      Hilarious post!!! Love it!

      August 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. freg

    dis a good story – an aberage mens win dis – awestum!!!!

    August 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ted

    he needs someone to keep him honest and invest the money well or he will go bankrupt in 10-15 years.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mikey

    eat more viddles, dot your i`s & cross your tees. we need a lottery that shares more of the wealth in smaller winning pots, this would help a cash strapped economy. say no to large payouts so more people could win something. pass me some more of them viddles` if you don`t mind, you all hear?

    August 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
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