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. EAPoe

    I like to think that winning that kind of money wouldn't change me, but realistically I'd probably be squandering it on trinkets I don't really need and thinking I was a whole lot more important than I really am. Good for this fellow if he can avoid the temptation.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. C Bauer

    If I won that kind of money, I'd put over half of it away in investments and such, but I would definitely allocate several million to purchase a nice home, a Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, and of course lots of Liberace-like jewelry, velvet and fur pimp clothes, and a jewel-encrusted chalice just to annoy my new upper-crust neighbors.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • shan

      I love your list. You should get your chalice from swarovski. And not just one – make it a complete set of 8!

      August 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • shan

      My fancy ride would be a Lamborghini Gallaardo (or the like).

      And I would be a several million dollar home inear a low cost market like Cleveland – it would so big that my entire extended family could move in!

      August 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yo Mammy

      Remember to keep your music loud!

      August 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. zzBottom

    I don't care for a nice car, nice house (hell, I'll keep renting my apartment) or any other silly toys that cost tens of thousands of dollars. All I plan to do with my money is to go from a full time job to a part time one. That's how to really enjoy life – not stuck in the same traffic and 30k car still just as miserable as the guy next to you in the volvo.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Michael

    I would buy the E! channel and fire the Kardashians.....

    August 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dan Conway

      Promise???? If I had it I'd give the money to you myself just to fire them!

      August 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Old555

    I I I how about donating some of the money to the church, to help the many homeless and starving children all over the world. That much money is a disgrace to have around. Sure treat yourself but remember those who have nothing.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jay

      You know, I'm sure he will he's smart, he said he's going to take time to think about what to do with it. But I hate it when people "expect" everyone to give to the church (I'm an atheist, lots of people are) , feed the homless, etc., get over it! It's the winner's money, they need to have fun with it, I HATE the expectations of "others", of what someone should do! None of your business I'd tell everyone, in fact, I win I would go in such a disguise no one would recognize me, and I live in a huge city and my name is common. I would NOT tell a soul I won, no relatives or anyone, because then you will live a life of hell with people not leaving you alone!. It's no ones business how much money someone has, do people as you what's in your back account?

      August 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jay

    He keeps eating at McDonald's he won't be around to enjoy his good fortune! He needs to hire a chef to cook healthy meals if he won't cook himself and hire a trainer to get that weight off, or he might be looking at a heart attack or stroke, the 40's are a prime time for them! Good luck to him!

    August 31, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Old555

      Jay
      You are one selfish person. Glad I"m not in yourfamily

      August 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • shan

      Once he gets a taste of some of the really good stuff they serve at nicer places, he won't be back to McD's or any fast food.

      August 31, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. christine

    he's kinda mad that he has to pay taxes on his huge winnings? What an idiot. If I won that kind of money I would pay 3/4 of it in taxes and still be very happy. After all, you only bet 2 frickin' dollars to win it.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • me

      he was joking. that's why the article stated that people laughed.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dean

      Yea boy. I'll bet you add a few extra hundred when you pay your taxes to help all those who are less fortunate than you.

      August 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. me

    if he's smart, he'll set up trust funds for his kids that can't be touched until they're 25 or 30, hire some well respected money managers, force himself to live by an exact and strict budget, and stay away from the public.

    but he's a redneck. he'll build the largest monster truck track in the world in his backyard and a pork skins factory behind that

    August 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • shan

      His first mistake was to accept the money as himself, and not contact money managers first.
      Now every swindler, golddigger, and crook in the world will be showing up at his doorstep. And that's just his family!

      Just imagine everyone else.
      He should've done a blind trust to accept the money.

      Then set up trust funds for his children and maybe nieces/nephews. With a trusted manager. Only release the full funds when they get a college degree (which will be paid for out of the funds).

      Don't give money to the family. Buy them reasonable houses and pay the taxes on those houses for 10 years or maybe even 20. He can buy them cars too – and basically tell them they can pick a $150K house and a 30K car, go do all the negotiating and picking and call him when they need the check to be written. Have a strict criteria as to what members of extended family get what or else you could literally spend 200 millions dollars on all of them.

      If you want to give money to friends and colleagues, make them sign confidentiality agreements or something. Not sure how that could be done but I'm sure the lawyer could figure out a way to keep them all quiet.

      August 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. kevin q

    With that much money, for every dollar i spent on myself, i'd spend a dollar on a needy person.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • me

      how much do you give to needy people now?

      August 31, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cnnsucks

    you owe me 1000K $

    August 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. nonyabidnes2

    I wonder if this winner would help this Disabled Vietnam Vet. I need help to finance a home in New Orleans...

    August 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. lancemick

    I would start a charity that helped people in need, especially those who cannot help themselves such as children, and give away 90% of it.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Juls

    I would buy the Westboro Baptist Church and turn it into a gay bar.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Striider

      lol – too funny!

      August 31, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Funniest post ever!!

      August 31, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. amy zeigler

    I cannot believe how focused everyone is on this man saying he would still eat at McDonalds. He didnt say he would eat every meal there, geez. Those of you scoffing should check the calories count in your starbucks and be quiet. He simply expressed he lives a simple life and will continue to do so and I hope he is able to. I bought a ticket, and as a single mom planned out all the things I would do with the money, including helping the people I loved and those who have helped me. I applaud him and wish him well.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yo Mammy

      Tell 'em, girl!

      August 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mopery

    Wow, he was just a lowly railroad engineer, and now he's a bonafide job creator! I'd say that he's rich, but you know, Newspeak rules prevent that, so I'm stuck calling him a job creator.

    August 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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