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Colorado mom of 4 is final $1 million vaccine lottery winner

July 7, 2021 GMT

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado mother of four has been chosen as the final $1 million vaccine lottery winner, Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday.

Heidi Russell, a stay-at-home mother expressed her gratitude and shock after finding out about her win.

“This prize will be so helpful in raising four kids.,” Russell said. “When I told my daughter yesterday, her first comment was ’Yes my college is paid for.”

The lottery campaign gave five Colorado residents $1 million in weekly drawings throughout June and into early July in an effort to promote COVID-19 vaccinations. Residents who received at least one dose from the recommended vaccine providers were automatically entered into the drawings.

Polis, a Democrat, credited the lottery with motivating more people to get vaccinated that otherwise would not have agreed to the shots.

But state data shows the lottery didn’t lead to an increase in vaccination rates.

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The state gave out about 501,000 doses from May 26 to June 26, a 43% decrease from the total vaccines administered in the month before the announcement — which was nearly 1.2 million.

As part of the program, Colorado also awarded five $50,000 scholarships to residents 12-to 17-years-old who received at least one vaccine dose. Winners can use the scholarships at the post-secondary educational institutions of their choice — including colleges and technical, occupational and credential programs both inside and outside Colorado.