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. :)

    Well with that kind of money he'll at least be able to benefit from top-notch health care. Just like politicians and pro athletes.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ann

    “I don’t like filet mignon or lobster. I like the simple life, and that’s what I want to continue to do.” Um, has he ever had either? If he likes McDonald's I would imagine he eats steak. Does he not realize filet mignon is just a nice steak? And now that he has so much money, maybe buying some better quality food would do him some good. Just saying.

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

      @ Ann- He is just trying to say the money won't change him. I say good for him. Too many people who suddenly attain great wealth forget who they are and end up miserable.

      August 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff

    His simple life is about to be turned completely upside down. Hes a complete freaking idiot for coming forward on something like this.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      I don't know about MI, but quite a few states require that you publicize your award in order to collect it.

      August 31, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bill

    You can see he loves fast food and that he won't live long enough to spend much of that money other than on all the health care required to treat the consequences of his severe obesity.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TMoney

    "I found the simple life aint so simple." – David Lee Roth

    August 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Oprah Doesn't know everyrhing

    He'll be miserable in a year and dead within three. These big jackpots aren't moral; no one should win more than a few million. Notice he speaks of food (sigh), relatives and travel. Oh, the U.S. default. He says nothing about charities or foundations or forests or rivers or orphans or drought/starvation/genocide victims. He doesn't even say he will give shoes to people who have none, or pencils to schoolkids without. People in the U.S. already consume too much (food, petroleum, water, oxygen, electricity) and here's our representative to the rest of the world. What if he used the money to put McDonald's out of business??? Oh wait....sigh. I'm sure he doesn't recycle his McDonald's napkins or cups or whatever. He probably sits in the drivethrough with his engine running too, and not a wee vehicle. Too bad. Everyone here is saying the same thing: try some carrot sticks and a jogging program. Set an example. Save yourself. Oh, and dude, give 90% of it away.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andres

      99% of people don't turn off their car while in drive thru....

      August 31, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      Jesson...I don't believe in calling people names in these forums, so I am glad you did it.

      August 31, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mico

    It's Obama's fault.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    He'll drop dead of a heart attack before he's 50, guaranteed.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hardworker777

    This guy is entering the hardest phase of his life. May God help him.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. The Dude

    I'm sure his relatives are pleased to hear that

    August 31, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. zzBottom

    not only is he a fast food kinda guy, but he's my hero...

    lol. I hate fast food, but this guy is genuinely happy. Looks don't lie.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Andrew Harris

    I'd eat McDonald's too. i wouldn't spend it all on snail sandwiches and two hundred dollar bowls of ramen. Hats off. He might live to be 80 John. I've known some big guys to live to be pretty old. I've lost some weight personally. I've felt better, but ya know how life goes. Medical science isn't always right. I hope the best for him.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. curt

    Whether he likes it or not, his life will never be the same. His old life is effectively over.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. QualisTempus

    Obviously invested all of his new found fortune in McDonals, Burger King, Wendy's, Jack in the Crack, Taco Bell, and ..... Heart Catherazation Equipment Vendors, maybe some of this will trickle down to us po folks.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wastewater1

    Psalm 83 speaks to our moment in time and while Blessed with such a coveted jackpot, this gentleman has been bestowed a wonderful opportunity to reach to those less fortunate and help whenever possible. God Bless this man, his family and to those who truly understand the serious political and economic uncertainties which prevail and only through repentence shall we overcome what transgressions have brought us to the precipice of calamity not even sevety years later after We all either witness or read accounts of the tragedies of War!

    Pls utilize thee monies wisely and be patient for not all knocking on your dorr are deserving, however with your obvious inherent sense of simpicity, those who come before you with hand reaching out, well, you will be able to decifer those whose hearts and minds are deserving of assistance....

    My suggestion Sir, buy not one, but a few Bibles for your home and when possible begin by reading Pslam 83 over and over until you have the insight which tells all....

    Take care –

    August 31, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Winner Here

      I think it is great that the man won all this money. I wish it had been me. That's my comment. I would have read yours, but it started wrong.

      August 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Minorkle

      I concur

      October 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
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