Third round of vaccine lottery winners announced

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Winners in the latest round of the state's sweepstakes designed to increase COVID-19 vaccinations among Michigan residents were announced Tuesday.

Watch:Latest MI Shot To Win drawing

The "MI Shot To Win Sweepstakes" daily winners were announced during a virtual news conference. The first four $50,000 daily drawing winners announced Tuesday were Leslie Boney of West Bloomfield, Johnathan Barraw of Traverse City, Mikayla Alexander of Detroit and Erika Smith of Flint.

Kerry Ebersole Singh, director of the Protect Michigan Commission, served as the conference's moderator and the winners were announced by Miss Michigan 2021 Vivian Zhong of Northville and Norman Korpi, an MTV “Real World: New York” cast member and native of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. 

"This is our third round," Singh said. "I want to give a huge thanks to every Michigander who has stepped up and go their vaccine, which is safe and works and protects you."

The commission is an advisory group to the governor and the state's Department of Health and Human Services and educates communities about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Barraw said he got his vaccine because wearing a mask at work led to breathing issues and he wanted to help protect his two young children. He also said he saw a close friend lose his life to the virus.

"So for anybody who is on the fence about getting their shots, their vaccines, the only thing I can say is don't wait," Barraw said. "Take your shot, literally. This is the way for all of us to keep fighting, to keep living, for all of us to help our community."

Korpi named six other $50,000 daily winners: Majid Al-Hacham of Deaborn Heights, Anthony Carroll of Detroit, Jonelle Shannon of Grand Rapids, Jacqueline Mabee of Allegan, Clara Jekel of Holland and Ke'Lexis Love of Flint.

Al-Hacham's wife, Sina, spoke for him because he's a truck driver and is on the road. She said the couple and parents of three got vaccinated for their peace of mind.

"We got vaccinated because we want to keep our family and our community safe," she said. "We did our part, so do your part please."

Zhong, who was crowned Miss Michigan last month, encouraged everyone to get their COVID-19 vaccine if they haven't done it yet. Zhong, who plans to start medical school in the fall, said she got vaccinated to protect herself, her family and her future patients. 

"I'd love to see a point of this pandemic where we are completely back to normal, but that needs to start with vaccinations," she said. "Please get vaccinated. Protect yourself, your family and your friends."

On July 1, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer launched the sweepstakes, which offers college scholarships and cash prizes to Michigan residents who have received their COVID-19 vaccine. The effort is a collaboration between Michigan-based retailer Meijer, the Michigan Association of United Ways, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and other groups. 

MI Shot to Win

The contest features drawings awarding $50,000 to $2 million. Residents ages 12 to 17 can win one of nine $55,000 college scholarships. The $2 million drawing will take place in early August, as will the drawings for the scholarships.

Officials said Friday is the deadline for unvaccinated Michiganians to get their COVID-19 vaccine and qualify for the sweepstakes’ remaining $50,000 cash giveaways and its $2 million top prize. 

"We have just a few days left to get registered or if you have not received a dose of vaccine, you still have a shot to win $50,000," Singh said. "So now through Friday is your last chance."

More than 2.2 million people have qualified for the grand prize and nearly 98,000 young Michiganians signed up for the college scholarship drawing since July 1, according to officials 

Last Wednesday, the governor's administration announced a 51-year-old Grand Blanc woman won $1 million in the contest. The first four winners of $50,000 each were named July 14.

As of last week Thursday, nearly 63% of Michigan residents 16 and older — or 5,091,577 of the state’s residents — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination, according to the state's data. 

But Singh said now isn't the time for the state to ease up on its efforts to stop the virus' spread.

"As you know this virus is still very, very real," Singh said. "And right now we're seeing an uptick in our case rates and the Delta variation is here."

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez