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. Sammy

    I really liked "you all think it's a tremendous amount"...If it's not a tremendous amount then give it back. Or better yet to me!

    August 31, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nm

    good luck buddy!!!! stay safe !

    August 31, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. zaphed

    i wish it were me... oh well.. I am still trying.

    August 31, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ty

    Dude, all I can say is please watch FAT, SICK, AND ABOUT TO DIE, and you'll live long enough to enjoy that money, as well as better health. You can find it on hulu, I believe, or for a cool $Million, you can have my copy.

    August 31, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tramper john

    That is mean and you are just a sad person to not be happy for someone else. Bully!

    August 31, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TODAY


    August 31, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ty

    No envy here. If I were rich, I'd probably just be stupid with it. I have enough to not be stressed, that's good enough for me. If God wants me to win the lottery, He can get around the fact that I don't buy tickets.

    August 31, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. uranium-235

    " “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. "

    I wonder how many other people think god chose their numbers for them? Of course, if you don't win, you don't attribute the number choosing to a god.

    August 31, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • ikenelson

      Actually, religious people do think that if you don't win the lottery, then God has other plans for you.

      September 1, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. carledgar

    The story might have helped us out if it had also specified the tax payable on the lottery win. Not every last person in the world's more than 200 countries has an encyclopedic knowledge of the US Tax Code.

    I'm guessing 40% as a rule of thumb but hey . . .

    August 31, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tyler

    Fast food kinda guy huh? Well don't worry eating all that fast food he wont enjoy it long. He will most likely end up having a massive heart attack and die.

    August 31, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JRC

    HE is required to pay 25 percent (federal) tax= 84.25 million
    and 4.35 percent (state) tax= 14.6595
    Deducting taxes= 238 million

    You know, not a lot of money

    He only is receiving 238 million

    August 31, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Derm

      It's 224.6mm BEFORE taxes. Still a hell of a lot of money but a much different number.

      September 1, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |

      NOT a lot of money???? are you HIGH???

      I will be happy if they gave me just $1 million.

      September 1, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
    • rick1948

      Still, a lot more money than he'll ever be able to spend. Something the rich in the United States haven't figured out yet.

      September 1, 2012 at 4:53 am | Report abuse |
    • JomoDaMusicMan

      They may take out 25% but he may owe 35-39.6%, therefore if u are not careful at the end of the Tax Yr a person could end up owning another 10% at Tax time. Lottery are set up to make foolish lottery winners broke because they don't know tax Laws. Some even think they can claim the about that they win in Gambling Loses. Can u imagine this guy going into an IRS Audit telling the Examiner he LOST $224 MILLION THEREFORE HE OWES NO TAXES. TRUE, TAX LAWS DO STATE THAT U CAN CLAIM LOSES UP TO YOUR WINNINGS. BUT THAT NEVER WORKS FOR MILLION DOLLAR LOTTERY WINNERS

      September 1, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. TODAY

    Hey Donald ...I just realized we are cousins ...Can I retire now? LOL

    August 31, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. redneckssuck

    I feel jealous, hot chicks will find him attractive.

    August 31, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Babaloo10

    And true to form, he looks like he goes to McDonald's alot! Well now he's got the money to buy his own. $224 million is about what a McDonald franchise costs........

    September 1, 2012 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. RBSG

    In his honor, the lottery name has been changed...from Powerball to Butterball.

    September 1, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
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