(08/31/12) - They mystery is over. We now know who won the $337 million Powerball jackpot.
It was sold right here in Mid-Michigan earlier this month.
Forty-four-year-old Donald Lawson of the Lapeer area was the one who bought it. He was introduced at a news conference in Lansing Friday.
Lawson is now retired from the railroad industry. He was a railroad engineer and was scheduled to work his overnight shift the day he found out he won - Aug. 16. The drawing was the night before.
His daughter called and told him the winning ticket had been sold in Lapeer.
"So I got on the computer and started checking the numbers backwards. Read them backwards and then I kind of lost my breath," Lawson said.
Lawson says he said a prayer to calm himself down and then called his sister and asked her to come over.
Lawson, who has two daughters, says he has told his close family they can retire, too.
His mother was by his side Friday morning as he was introduced as the winner. He joked about all of the taxes he has to pay and chose the lump sum option.
The father of two says his daughters will go to college and he will be generous with his winnings.
"The rest of my family is going to be taken care of, which is important to me, and then after that, I'm going to be taken care of very well," he said. "I want to travel a lot and now I can. I can go anywhere in the world I want. That's what I'm going to do," Lawson said.
When's it's all said and done, the final prize amount is about $159 million.
"We come from poor people and so he knows the value of a dollar," Lawson's mother said.
He said he will be smart with his spending, adding the money won't last forever unless he uses it right and budgets it right.
Lawson, a self described hillbilly, says he's only lived in the Lapeer area for about 10 years. He joked he moved to Michigan to play the lottery.
He is from Arkansas and says he will be leaving Lapeer. He lives nearby in Mayfield Township with his sister and brother-in-law. A no-trespassing sign sits in the front yard and police could often be seen patrolling in the area Friday, looking for traffic problems if that becomes an issue.
Many people in the Lapeer area are happy to know the lottery winner is someone they live, shop and work with.
Lawson's house is just a couple of miles from the gas station where he purchased the ticket, and those who live nearby say Lawson is a good neighbor.
It's a somewhat rural setting, where neighbors will wave at each other on the road and stop and chat at the mailbox, but don't spend a lot of time socializing with each other. But word that Lawson won hundreds of millions of dollars has brought neighbors out to talk about the good news.
They are confident he and his family will be able to handle the money. They suggest he should give some of his winnings to charity and that he get some good financial advise. But other than that, they want him to have a lot of fun with his new-found wealth.
Lottery ticket sales at the store where Lawson purchased the ticket have increased somewhat since hitting the big numbers, but owner Sam Odish says he has not yet been paid for selling the winning numbers. It's estimated the business will get about $50,000.
As for those lucky numbers? They weren't his normal ones. Lawson says "something from above" guided him.
"My hand went to 'em and I'm certainly glad it did," he said.
That winning ticket made its way around his home before ending up in the bank in a safety deposit box before he cashed it in.
"The ticket was put in my bible. Then it was put under my couch. Then it was put on top of my refrigerator," he said.
The first thing Lawson bought after he found out he won was a pack of bubble gum.
His Powerball win is the largest single jackpot prize awarded in Michigan.
ABC12 Main Station