POSTED: 8:22 a.m. HST, Aug 31, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 9:31 a.m. HST, Aug 31, 2012
LANSING, Mich. >> Donald Lawson says the first thing he bought after winning the third-largest Powerball jackpot ever was a pack of bubble gum.
Lawson, a 44-year-old Lapeer resident, said Friday at a news conference in which he claimed the $337 million prize that it wasn't long before he quit his job as a railroad engineer. Lawson, a self-described "hillbilly" who grew up in Fort Smith, Ark., said he also told several family members to retire.
Standing alongside three family members, Lawson described the moment he learned his life was about to change, when he checked the ticket he bought at a local Sunoco gas station for the Aug. 15 drawing.
"I started reading backwards, and lost my breath," Lawson said. The winning numbers were 6, 27, 46, 51, 56 and Powerball 21.
Lawson, who has two daughters who didn't appear with him Friday, opted to take a lump-sum payment of $224.6 million. He said he doesn't know yet what he'll do with the money, but he plans to travel and continue living a "simple life."
"I'm going to escape for now, and go somewhere safe," he said, adding that he plans to move from Lapeer, a city about 45 miles north of Detroit where he's lived for the past decade.
Lawson said the jackpot winnings won't last long if he isn't careful, joking about the government immediately claiming its share.
"I'm kinda pissed at Uncle Sam," he quipped.
The gas station that sold the winning ticket will get a $50,000 bonus, Michigan Lottery officials said.