A health care worker from Mead was announced on Friday as the first vaccinated Coloradan to win a $1 million prize as part of a weekly cash drawing aimed at boosting the state’s flagging vaccination rate.
Sally Sliger, who received her first dose of the vaccine in March, said she was notified that she’d been drawn as the first winner while in a meeting at work on Wednesday. She and her husband, Chris, plan to put the funds towards their retirement savings, paying off student loans and supporting their sons’ education.
“I encourage everyone to get vaccinated because of the freedoms this vaccine has provided me, my family and my community,” Sliger told reporters in a press conference alongside Gov. Jared Polis on Friday. “A stable future after the last year that we’ve had is worth all the money in the world — but of course it doesn’t hurt to take your chance at a million dollars as well.”
Polis announced the “Colorado Comeback Cash” drawing, a partnership between the Colorado Lottery and the state health department, on May 25. Similar lotteries have been launched by other states, including Ohio, California and Oregon, as officials look to overcome vaccine hesitancy as part of a national goal to reach a 70% vaccination rate by July.
Over half of Coloradans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to state data, but the weekly number of doses administered has fallen from its late-March peak, and vaccination rates in some parts of the state, including many rural, Republican-leaning counties, lag far behind the statewide average.
All Coloradans over the age of 18 who have been vaccinated are eligible to win one of the four remaining $1 million prizes, which will be announced on June 11, June 18, June 25 and July 7.
Separately this week, Polis announced the launch of the Colorado Comeback Cash Scholarship, which will award $50,000 college scholarships to five vaccinated Coloradans aged 12 to 17 each week for the next five weeks.
”These scholarships will help 25 lucky winners get the postsecondary education of their choice,” Polis said in a statement. “We need each and every Coloradan to be part of this once-in-a-generation effort to power the Colorado Comeback and the first step is getting vaccinated.”