LANSING, Mich. — The $1,000,000 winner of the state's COVID vaccine sweepstakes was 51-year-old LaTonda Anderson from Grand Blanc.
"I found out that I was the winner last Wednesday to be honest with you, and my initial reaction was that, 'Okay, this is a scam. This is not real. This can't be real,'" LaTonda said.
Kerry Ebersole-Singh, director of the Protect Michigan Commission, personally delivered LaTonda the $1,000,000 check.
LaTonda said she was in, "Complete shock. You just don't hear of anyone that you know who's won a sweepstakes or at least not of that magnitude."
A mother of two, LaTonda received her second dose of the vaccine with her husband Brett in April at Northwestern High School in Flint. She said her whole household has been vaccinated.
"I know more people who have died from COVID, than I do who have had any issues with the vaccine, or who have been impacted by the vaccine," LaTonda said. "So, in my opinion, it was just a no-brainer -- definitely to do our part to protect our families, our friends and people even that you don't know."
Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist was virtually joined by Ebersole-Singh and actor Tim Meadows, a Michigan native and Saturday Night Live alum, to announce the second round of winners on Wednesday.
"I know it's tempting to celebrate because we are moving forward," Gilchrist said. "But, if you haven't gotten your shot yet, this virus is still a really real threat to you."
Right now, close to 63 percent of the state population - more than 5 million Michiganders - have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. The goal for the sweepstakes is to have at least 70 percent of the state, 16 years or older, fully vaccinated by Labor Day.
"I want to give a huge, huge thanks to every Michigander who stepped up and got their safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine," Gilchrist said. "We will continue making efforts to reach people where they are, answer questions and help you get your shot."
The two $50,000 winners were Jenna Basaj, of Madison Heights, and Paul Bareno, of Rockford.
Basaj said she and her fiance contracted COVID-19 earlier this year and were sick for more than a month.
"What I would say to Michiganders who are on the fence like I was about getting the vaccine is: do your research, think about yourself and your loved ones, and make your own educated decision," Basaj said.
She plans to save some of the money for her wedding and use the rest to go back to school and start her own business.
Bareno said he plans to use his money for home-improvement projects and a vacation.
So, how will LaTonda be using her winnings?
"My daughter is in dental school so we'll assist her with her loans, and then of course we'll do our tithes and offerings -- I got to give back to the one who gave to me," LaTonda said. "And, just a few odds and ends around the house, home improvements."
The MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes has more than 2,000,000 entries, but is still accepting more. To learn more or enter in the sweepstakes, click here.
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