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. Schmedlap

    Yea, I can tell that the dude like's his fast food.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. SC

    I hope he can get a personal trainer so he can enjoy his money years into time.

    Fast food is poison.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Dana

    Seriously, doesn't like fillet mignon and lobster? Prefers 20-year old burger in McD? Amazing....

    August 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. cpc65

    AP Bulletin: Powerball winner collapses and dies from heart attack at drive-thru. Ronald to give eulogy.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Lori

    McD's? no way! II'll feed you healthy meals, and we can get married and spend a long life together enjoying the good life!

    August 31, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yeah, No

      Gold Digger!

      August 31, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DC

    With that kind of money, he can buy a whole chain of McDonald's

    August 31, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Lagos

    He's not going to let the money change him, he's not changing the way he lives, but he's quitting his career and letting his relatives do it off his dime too. Tell me, how many years do you think maybe 100 million post-tax is going to last if he's dishing out at least 20 million to make sure his closest relatives are set for a comfortable life? Not factoring in the gift tax that'd be taken out, so probably more like 30 million.

    Sorry, don't buy it. Travel around the world with millions of dollars, and you're going to spend it. Sit on your butt all day with nothing to do and no work to occupy your time, you'll spend the money.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. SFF

    And because of his choice in food, he will die before he even spends it all.. and all of it will go right back to the government and his bank because he won't get his stuff in order before then.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. John Smith

    Well, he can now brag about being richer than Mitt Romney...

    August 31, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jennifer

    Of course he likes McDonald: his name is Donald.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. 22X Richer

    When the friends he never knew he had start coming out of the woodwork he'll rethink his reality then go into hiding.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. :)

    $337 million in the bank and ten cents in his head. This guy will stroke out within a year.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • chaserrr

      Agreed!

      August 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Big Moose

    It's a good thing to help others with the monies you earn. Hopefully he'll do good things with the money he won and spread it around to people who really need it. This should be a good example for those desiring to run for political offices.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sophia

    Too bad the money didn't go to someone who would better their lifestyle.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hank Hill

      It is his money. Who cares if he will better his own life. Read the article and you will see that he told his closest relatives that they will be able to retire. That sounds like he is improving someone else's life to me. Mind your own business

      August 31, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • ginalove40

      @Sophia, if ever you should be so blessed with a lump sum fortune, then YOU go out and better YOUR life. Leave alone the lifestyle of others. We all all to be judged in due time, so don't spend time ill-willing someone else just because HIS plan (Mr. Lawson's) doesn't jive with what you would do.

      >>>CONGRATS, MR. LAWSON!!!. GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR FORTUNE.<<<

      August 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. alyarby

    It's kind of sad, actually, when a person who looks as overweight as he does, wins a ton of money and instead of vowing to get himself healthy makes a promise to continue eating at McDonalds. That, I guess, is what our nation has become - lazy, fat, and dedicated to being fat and lazy.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • YouArePennState

      Don't forget jealous.

      August 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • ginalove40

      @alyarby....yes, you have "JEALOUSY" written all over you.

      OK, Mr. Lawson is obese. No argument there. But, it doesn't hurt to simply wish a guy the best with his fortune, rather than calling bad, hurtful names.

      >>>CONGRATS, MR. LAWSON!! GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR FORTUNE.<<<

      August 31, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
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