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. ahhhhh

    No, dude, this is your chance to get healthy now. No excuses. You can afford healthy food. Keep the Big Macs to a minimum. Your heart will thank you later. Hope he has an epiphany about this before he's battling some disease that the FAT suffer. Be healthy!

    August 31, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. w5cdt

    I know several millionaires that sneak into McDonalds here in Austin. Funny.

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

    Good for this guy, i lived close to lapeer about 15 years ago till i got the hell out, People are still wearing Moon Boots with Black pants black shirts and Listening to Posion, and White Snake......or running from the Cops.

    Dean Ford Oxford 88

    August 31, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BP

    Now he can buy a fast food chain! He also better get his cholesterol checked so he is around in the future to spend the cash! ha ha just kidding have fun man!

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

      Agreed. I'm 45 and a lot smaller than this guy, but still overweight. I just had a heart attack 2 months ago, and I luckily lived (obviously). I learned my leason and now I eat very healthy. Hopefully this guy gets smart soon.

      August 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. azaze

    telling all his close relatives to reitre? guy will be broke within five years, a fool and his money are easily parted, the only way this will work out well for him is if he win's another lottery and finds a goodhearted, honest, highly educated man to manage his money, the odds of finding that after having won several hundred millions of dollars are very, very low, especially for someone that does not understand finance

    August 31, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bill

    He indirectly said that Mc Donalds is for poor people!!!!

    August 31, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. treweis

    He'll put a McDonald's in his house now. So funny when the dumb win. Well, at least he quit his job. When i hear about lotto winners not quitting their job at the factory or whatever, I cringe. Quit!

    August 31, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dave

    So he skips from McDonalds to lobster? Is there a low-fat middle-ground anywhere?

    August 31, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. NealR2000

    Based upon his comments, the guy will dead from a heart attack or broke from mismanaging his money ... whichever comes first.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rh

    Good for him. As for being known or unknown, they usually stipulate you have to be known, especially for big jackpots. Same at casinos, to prove someone actually won.

    So he'll dye his hair, lose a few pounds, sell the house.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Leigh2

    He's a rather nice looking man despite his weight. I would suggest to him loosing a few pounds, eating at some place with a healthier menu or get a big place that has a nice kitchen and hire a chef who will cook him nutritious food which also tastes great. It can be done. And like some other posters suggested, getting a personal trainer. He'd be so hot then the gals wouldn't even care about his money ~ he'd also wouldn't be widely recognizable which would also be a good thing ~ then he'd know they weren't after his money, but his body and face!

    August 31, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. treweis

    Wow, Rob, you are so enlightened! Most of these people see a disaster waiting to happen. See they are smart. Look that up, Rob. S-m-a-r-t and try your best. lol

    August 31, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. fmv

    How the hell can you not like lobster? It is not humanly possible to not like lobster. And obviously hes never had a $75 beef filet at a high end restaurant made by a real chef using wine reduction sauces, Outback Steakhouse and Sizzler arent the same and I can see why people would not care for it.

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

      Yeah, who doesn't love sea-roach?

      August 31, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leigh2

      I love lobster, but my family considers them 'sea bugs' and refuses to eat them. Sad. :=(

      August 31, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. durr

    use the money for liposuction...

    August 31, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Alfred E. Neuman

    McDonald's serves crap and people wait in line to buy it. Any wonder this country is headed for the toilet?

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


      August 31, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • joma14

      What?! You worry??

      August 31, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • samwade611

      Just watched the interview with him!! LMAO any wonder why this guy said what he said is answered...not the sharpest knife in the drawer

      August 31, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • joma14

      Hey, Sam- he no longer needs to be..

      August 31, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
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