LANSING, Mich. — A Bloomfield Township woman who won the grand $2 million prize in Michigan’s coronavirus vaccination sweepstakes said Monday that she and her husband will save money for their three kids’ college education, remodel their house and donate a portion to improve mental health services.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, Christine Duval left her full-time job as a project manager for a language training company in Troy to help her daughter, now 10, with remote learning after her school closed. She and her husband got their first COVID-19 shots in early April and their second ones weeks later. Their 18- and 15-year-old sons also are vaccinated.
Winning $2 million “will help us achieve all of our dreams,” Duval said. “We are really lucky and want to give back to those in need. The pandemic was tough on everyone, and we believe the need for providing services that promote positive mental health care is more important than ever.”
The MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes program was designed to boost the vaccination rate in July, a period that coincided with a 2-percentage point increase in infections, the spread of the delta variant, and hospitals and universities announcing vaccine requirements. The raffle featured the $2 million jackpot and an earlier $1 million prize, which were open to residents who received at least one dose between Dec. 1 and July 30.
People ages 18 and older who got an initial shot in July were eligible for one of 30 daily drawings of $50,000. Nine vaccinated children ages 12 to 17 won four-year prepaid tuition contracts valued at $55,000 each.
Michigan’s weekly number of people getting a first shot rose for four straight weeks between July 11 and Aug. 7 before dropping in the past two weeks.
About 65% of Michigan residents ages 16 and older have received at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which factors in people who were vaccinated outside the state or at federal veterans affairs, defense and prison facilities. State officials’ goal is 70%.
About 55% of those ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.
The sweepstakes initiative was funded by the state and operated by Meijer in partnership with the Michigan Association of United Ways. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who participated in a virtual news conference during which the last recipients were announced Monday, said 2.4 million Michiganders signed up for a chance to win cash and 106,000 entered to win the scholarships. Several winners were previously unvaccinated before the sweepstakes, she said.
“Our lottery was just one strategy we used to promote vaccinations. The work ahead is harder still. But we will get there,” Whitmer said.
Michigan appears to be entering a fourth surge of infections.
The seven-day average of new daily cases was 1,720 on Saturday, which was up from 1,070 two weeks earlier and 306 on July 21 but well below the peak of 7,873 in April, according to John Hopkins University. The rate was lower than in all but four states. The daily death rate, 15.6, was 4.7 on Aug. 7.