(CBS4/AP) – Officials with the State of Colorado on Friday picked the first $1 million winner in a lottery that’s trying to inspire residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Gov. Jared Polis announced in an afternoon news conference that Sally Sliger of Mead won the first of five $1 million prizes for residents who have received the COVID vaccine.
The resident of the Weld County town is a clinical data analyst at Tru Community Care, a Lafayette-based nonprofit organization that offers hospice and other care.
Sliger recounted how she and the community at large have suffered both personally and professionally the loss of neighbors and loved ones during the pandemic. “Like all the rest of us, we have postponed family events,” she said. “We’ve postponed memorial services. … So when the wait was over there was no doubt I would get my vaccination.”
Every resident who was vaccinated by the end of May was entered in the first drawing of the Colorado Comeback Cash giveaway.
Residents needed to be 18 years old and have received at least one dose of the approved coronavirus vaccines to be eligible. The state will hold four more drawings — on June 11, 18, 25 and July 7. The last day to qualify for the drawing is June 30.
Sliger said she and her husband, Chris, initially planned to bolster their retirement savings and help their children with the winnings.
Colorado is one of several states offering lottery prizes, scholarships and other incentives to drive vaccination rates up. The Centennial State also has a giveaway in place for 25 scholarships for $50,000. The state of Ohio has already given away multiple cash prizes including student scholarships. Last month the governor there announced a dramatic increase in vaccine rates in that state among certain age groups.
More than 3 million Colorado residents, about half of the state’s population, have received their first vaccine dose, and nearly 2.6 million have been fully immunized, according to the state health department.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)