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. Blackborg917

    Got a few unemployed friends I would help out, make sure all the grandkids get college and a great start in life. Then the charities and soup kitchens and churches. The wife would get a big new diamond ring, we would do some serious traveling, maybe a new house and a couple of new cars. As long as we keep 5 or so million, I supose we would give the rest away. There"s a lot of hungry people out there! Maybe I"m being a little too greedy, still lets see after I win it!(LOL)

    August 31, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Svenghooli

      Good plan.....

      August 31, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      It was a good plan until you mentioned giving money to any kind of church.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. steve

    look at the smile on this guy. i think it's great. And to think...i helped it happen (well, a dollar's worth)! 🙂

    August 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AK hasn't sunk in yet...but you can BUY a McDonald's. Maybe several.

    Congratulations! 😉

    August 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Smokey

    How is a McDonalds meal "simpler" than filet mignon or lobster? Lobster you just throw it in the pot and then dunk it in butter, but McDonalds has dozens of complex corporate processes before it gets to your belly. Filet mignon is just really good meat, barely processed or cooked at all, it's as simple as it gets. Just a quibble...

    Unregardless, congrats to this guy and I hope he makes the most of his good fortune.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jim Weix

    Good luck to you!

    August 31, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sheesh

    Another victim of "Curse Of The Lottery" Having money doesnt end your problems, it creates new ones.. Scammers, beggers, swindlelers no privacy, threats. All kinds of people at his feet and family members hes never heard of at his door. He'll go on a spending spree and have nothing in 3 months, Its not worth it to me.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Svenghooli

      If you win, can I have it?

      August 31, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Svenghooli

    Hmmm, he doesn't look like a fan of McDonalds.....well, maybe he will buy a few thousand of them....

    August 31, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. UncleSam

    I bet you his was calling on higher taxes to the rich one percenters. Now he's 'made at Uncle Same'.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arthur Chestnut

      The one percent would call it a two dollar investment and pay capital gains of 15 percent tax.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Svenghooli

    I'd just travel the world...and change my cell phone number.....stat!

    August 31, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hawkeye321

    Liposuction. Day one.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Evangelical Christian

    God gives money to idiotic and people who don't appreciate it

    August 31, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Adriano

    Whoever is in this guys will will be inheriting a large amount of cash soon.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gregory

    good to see he is humble. that is how millionaires remain millionaires.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dave W

    You remember that Rachel girl and monkey from Friends? If I won the lottery I'd buy both of them tomorrow. It would be too awesome. Monkeys are funny and Rachel could sit in my lap. That would be the best.

    August 31, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ted

    244 million and going to eat at McDonalds, tells me everything i need to know

    August 31, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
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