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. Capt. Zeb

    If Donald really wants the simple life, then he should sign up as crew on me Pirate boat, (Tall Ship Pirate Cruise Inc.).

    Maybe I would make him Captain of me 4th boat!

    August 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. doug

    Do yourself a favor and forget McDonald's and hire a personal trainer. Now you have plenty of time to get in shape.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. niknik

    You're not gonna eat all those cheeseburgers...

    August 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • phishkiss


      August 31, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Olive Oyl

      whattykno' wimpy, has more than enough to pay you on tuesday!

      August 31, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. YouArePennState

    Yes, hi, I'd like to order 337 million cheeseburgers from your value menu. Oh, and a diet coke, no ice.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. :)

    My previous snotty comment aside, I actually don't begrudge the dude one thin dime......

    August 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harry Kuheim

      Barry will be disappointed that you don't think you have a "Right" to part of his winnings...he didn't win that...he probably drove on a road someone else built when he bought his ticket.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • RobertC

      Your contrite second post aside, you obviously begrudge him every dime.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Grinning Libber

    He needs a new diet.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. I'd better re read

    Good mindset. Simplicity is best. What I'd do ( com'on, let me dream)- after selecting a simple castle with moat,
    simple landing strip with a plain Leer jet, I'd date some down to earth babes from heaven and simply go nuts.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Geoff

      People to Hire:


      Things to Do:

      Enroll in college forever (personal growth and babes)
      Travel the world
      Determine the best way to "give back"
      Enjoy life completely

      August 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. uloser

    Yeah, enjoy it while it lasts. This guy fits the typical lotto winner who will blow it within a cpl years. Then say, "Winning the lottery was the worst thing to ever happen to me." Guys like that can't handle this. It's too much of a life change. P.S. I believe you're the loser, loser.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • albert

      Sad but true. Do your own research and you will see that the majority of lottery winners are no longer millionaires. They wind up blowing their money.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baz

      Really Albert – "the majority of lottery winners" – based on what research? You Googled it and found one negatively biased story, right? There have been dozens of new millionaires created every single week around the world, for the last 50 years. Do some proper research.

      August 31, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Weix

      Sounds more like envy to me.

      August 31, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • ginalove40

      @uloser, your username is appropriate for you. Get a life, and keep you negative comments and bad wishes to yourself.


      August 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Belcebu

      Do not be jealeaus dude! pray you will have some money some day.......

      August 31, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Babula Matongo

      Envious, aren`t we?

      September 1, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • jill

      Something tells me that he will be broke and on welfare in 10 years...He sounds like trash not simple...

      September 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. M

      I agree with you – this guy is probably clueless and will be taken advantage of at every opportunity by family , friends and people looking to scam him. Still with that kind of money he could give away or lose 50 % of it and still be rich .

      September 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • theone

      I dont think so. He is basically set for life. That is a lot of money. 337 million dollars isn't 10 million or 50 million, it is stil over 200 million dollars after taxes. I think he will manage it good. Good for him and he is basically set for life.

      September 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • david

      this is absolutely right. it's obvious he does not understand exactly how much of a life change this is going to be for him and his family. professionals will find it incredibly easy to take advantage of him. he's going to hire a lawyer and that lawyer is going to take him for everything he's worth.

      September 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Geoff

    For people who are bagging on this guy:

    "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.”"

    Well, that's just about the smartest thing anyone could do after winning that much money. Go to some remote island and sit on the beach and think for a month or three.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. food

    Better spend that money fast before your heart attack

    August 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Michael

    Please pay off my car.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. KenB

    Yup, "there ain't nobody up there". This guy looks like he ain't passed by any Mickey D.s without chowing down big-time. Maybe he'll hire the world's best, most expensive personal trainer...otherwise his kids will inherit the bulk of his estate. And I do mean bulk. No mention of ex-wife who is rumored to be drinking heavily and early these days...if she happens to be no longer with us on the physical plane, my apologies.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BGko

    More like you like the extremely ignorant, uninformed, fat and stupid life....

    August 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tarlcabot

    His first mistake – going public, I'd rather be rich and unknown, vs rich and famous any day of the week. His second mistake, was going public....

    August 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • :)

      Not sure if he had any choice in the matter.

      August 31, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • puzzled dude

      He definitely didn't have a choice. The Powerball officials stated that people in Michigan cannot remain annonymous.

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

    More like you like the extremely ignorant, uninformed, fat and stupid life.... Seriously, what kind of idiot can afford to feed himself real, healthy food but instead chooses to eat the faux food at a fast food restaurant?

    August 31, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      He is a unique lottery winner. Kinda sad he thinks he's being humble because he likes fast food. I wonder if he really is all there when he said its not that much money. I wish him luck. I hope he lives long enough to enjoy some of the money, and im not all that slim myself, but come on, if we could afford to eat the healthiest food available, with such a wide range of chocies, why would you think McDonalds. Oh well, its kinda like the stock market, it just went down.

      August 31, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay Cee

      Jealous much?

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