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. Max&Friends

    I agree with Bill from Bloomington and Jim Weix. Angry, jealous people out there. We should be happy for our fellow man/woman.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Congrats

    My advice is to keep a low profile and if ibecomes necessary, move out town and/or state. There are alot of evil people out ready to spoil good fortunes of people that come into a lot of money from lottery jackpots. Hire $ surround yourself with financial planners, lawyers and consider setting a trust, that way no one can get to your $. Once that is in place, sit back and enjoy your money being happy and in peace.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. b

    Awesome sharing with your family. Dont change. Congrats!

    August 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sebastian2

    Good for him. 😉

    Just hope he doesn't have bloodthirsty relatives and would-be 'friends' try to 'entourage' him to death. Those would be my concerns if I got a sudden jackpot like that. But otherwise? Stay modest, spend wisely and enjoy yourself!

    August 31, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Airudyte

    Don't know anything about him, but he sure has a friendly face. I wish him all the best!!! Hopefully he'll share some of his wealth with the many worthy people out there who could use some help....oh, and helpless animals too! Congrats, Donald!

    August 31, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joepub

    I have to wonder how many of these superficial posters here commenting about his weight probably could stand to lose a few pounds too.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Eriberto Aguilar

    It's a shame Michigan insists on publicly identifying winners.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. clare


    August 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Huskee

    He might just have a quiet little life, helping his friends& family, going on a couple more vacations than he used to, and have lots of time to smell the flowers. The life everybody wants. I'd still slam down a couple dbl cheeseburgers too, those things rock!

    August 31, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Izoto

    The Lotto always goes to some noob.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alicia

    He should get off the Mcdonalds if he wants to live a full life with that money..... that stuff will kill you.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sheesh

    The thing I would do.. Board up my house, get a small travel RV, get a P.O. box in a random state, and just be a traveling gypsy away from people that will rob and scam you living at a typical residence.

    August 31, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • tramper john

      Dude get a reputable financial planner to keep you from over spending. Then when the things that are important to you and God besides your family, you can do great things. Give the thoughts to the one that gave it to you and go.The problems I have read about is too much spending, and long lost relatives that come out of nowhere with their needs, etc. Good luck.

      August 31, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. charles

    It shows how much he likes fast food

    August 31, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Huskee

    The sad thing is with such an uneducated comment, you would have said that about any state this article would have listed...including whatever state you live in. Nice stab. Michigan stays under the radar with zero hurricanes, scorpions, rattlesnakes, or earthquakes. 4 seasons, some of the most breath taking fall colors you'll ever see, and more freshwater white sand coastline than any other state. But some guy had nothing better to say than get out it, it's a sh!thole.

    August 31, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mattttmitchell

    he won 337 million crushed middle class dreams.

    August 31, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
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