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. Jeremy

    He seems like a good guy. I know one person who received a tremendous amount of money all at once. He said the same things, wanting to stay grounded, not fall into the trap of consumerism, etc... you can do it in the short term, but inevitably it becomes a challenge to maintain. I think his life is good, but not without challenges that come with wealth. I wish this guy the very best. Get a good accountant, get a good lawyer, and get a good financial adviser. Make sure they aren't the same person. Keep an eye on it but don't worry about it day-to-day. There are some dirt poor folk on this planet who have joy in their lives; figure out what they have and pursue it. All the best.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keisha

      I would love to win the lottery but I remember seeing a show on cable that definitely gave me a pause. One guy invested in a relatives invention that was a dud. He still has bags of it in his yard. Then he invested in a hotel with a family member but somehow got cheated out of it. He is no longer a millionaire. One woman had her house broken in multiple times and then finally someone burned her house down. Another man says that no matter how many times he's moved people always find his mailing address and he gets boxes of letters from people asking for money. His post office no longer sends mail to his house, he has to pick it up.

      I don't like that my state requires lottery winners to be identified. I'd definitely try and change at least my address before going public. Won't stop certainly family members though.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Norman

    A few bucks spent on grammar lessons wouldn't hurt either...

    August 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Does grammar bother you so much that you have to point it out?

      August 31, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • be quiet

      now Norman, don't be jealous. Mother doesn't like it when you're jealous.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      'The Birds' reference.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      It bothers me.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dean

    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,”
    Good luck fella.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Eric

    I remember watching a program where a financial adviser was giving advice on what to do if you win the lottery. One piece of advice was that even though over 90% of people take the "lump" sum, he advised taking the 20 payments instead. The reason? With the lump sum, you can only screw up once. With the 20 payments, you get 19 more chances.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • nemo0037

      Indeed. I did the math, and at the end of the 26-year payout, all investment outcomes being the same, you end up with a lot more money in the end. But people who don't think tend to act like big corporations: the only thing that matters is today, the heck with planning for the future.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      The possibility of dieing within those 26 years is always present.

      Best to keep the money early ( even though you do receive less) however that can be mitigated by the face of the time value of money by investing it.

      August 31, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tony in STL

    People have asked me if I won the lottery would I change. My response, ..."You're damned right I'm gonna change!"

    August 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. matt

    It's four o'clock and all is weeeellllll

    August 31, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Donald Lawson

    I'm a dumb hick. That's keeping it real.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dfhgdfxgb

    “You all think it’s tremendous amount, but I’m kind of p....ed at Uncle Sam … you know?”

    Why? Its not he's earned it by hard work. I don't too many people that would be disappointed with $224,600,000.

    I bet he complains about the taxes on interest earned (if he saves and invests it) even though he will be able to live nicely just on the interest. Never touch the principle, live off the interest.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason Willis

      He's not getting $226m after taxes. He's getting that as the lump sum. Then he's going to lose 35-40% to taxes. He'll end up with something like $140-150m.

      But yes, he still didn't earn it and still should be extremely happy to get that kind of money. If he invests wisely he'll be making 5m+/yr without even lifting a finger. No one should ever blow through that kind of cash, but surprisingly people have.

      August 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave W


      August 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. matt

    If I won the lottery I'd go home and take a nap. I'm tired today. Plus my back and shoulders hurt. It's good to be friday.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ImvotingforObama

    He should vote Republican since they do everything they can to help the rich.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Daniel

    What a waste. However, do enroll yourself in a school. Cheers..

    August 31, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dumb Hick

    Nothing, I mean nothing, says "Dumb Hick" like eating at McDonald's after winning the lottery. That and using "ain't nobody" in a sentence.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bill

    he obviously hasn't seen dave chappelle and will soon realize how keepin it real is really gonna keep it real

    August 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kay

    Oh man I feel so sorry for this guy. He is SO screwed.

    For one thing, advisors say NEVER take the lump sum. When that money's gone, it's GONE. Sounds like he plans to give a lot of it to his 'retired' relatives. Bad move. He's going to be bled dry in a few years, tops.

    And going to McDonald's? Forget it, pal. You'll be lucky to step out your front door without being hounded by perfect strangers hitting you up for money. Everybody in the world knows what you look like and where you live. You're going to have to move.

    The fact that you have faith makes you a very easy target for scam artists. Get an unlisted number and a PO box after you move. It's too late to do that for where you live now, every con artist in the US has already looked up exactly where you live. Thanks to Google Earth they probably know just what your house looks like.

    If your kids are in school, enroll them somewhere private ASAP. Kidnapping is a real concern for the families of big lottery winners.

    Good luck, pal, you're going to need it.

    August 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ger Republikins

    leaf uz republikins alon. calin er feller republikin er hic iz knot rite. wii republikins dun lyk u demokrates maykin fern uv uz. u lyk 2 kumplane wii r stoopud. u demokrate unly wunt 2 raz taxiz fer skools n tayk awhey r gunz n tayk jezuz frum r skools 2. wii wud betr iv wii wer al hom skoold lyk uz dun sowt. Ger republikins ronmy/rian 2013!!!!!!!!

    August 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
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