The final winner of Washington state’s vaccine lottery has been announced. The “Shot of a Lifetime” $1 million prize winner, Kameron M., a 23-year-old motorcycle mechanic from South King County, joined Gov. Jay Inslee at a news conference Friday.
“He’s getting a $1 million check, but he’s done something for the state of Washington himself, which is to get this vaccine and save other people’s lives,” Inslee said.
Kameron M. said he had not been aware of the lottery and any of its prizes until he was told he had won this week. The drawing for the jackpot took place Tuesday, but officials weren’t able to reach the winner immediately because his phone automatically does not accept calls with unknown numbers.
He said he found out he won after officials were finally able to reach him after they called his mother.
Kameron M. said he intends to continue working and to put the money toward investments and his home. The first step, he said, is to find a financial advisor.
“I went with my gut. I wanted to be safe with everyone around me,” he said about his decision to get vaccinated. “I’m not gonna force anybody to do anything, but I do encourage it because you want to protect people around you and others.”
The winner was joined by his girlfriend of nearly three years at the press conference Friday. She said she paid for the first date but now he will be paying for their celebratory dinner.
The money won’t change anything about the relationship, she said.
The previous four drawings were for cash prizes of $250,000. Winners included a Yakima resident, a nursing student from Spokane and a Walla Walla food service worker who almost didn’t return the call.
Prizes have also included Guaranteed Education Tuition credits for vaccinated residents ages 12 to 17, airline tickets, sports tickets, video game consoles and more.
Inslee has claimed that the lottery slowed the decline in vaccinations statewide, though it’s not clear how effective lotteries have been nationwide.
State officials announced Wednesday that Washington reached its goal of 70% of residents 16 years and older initiating vaccination against the coronavirus.
Inslee said the state will remain steadfast in its goal to vaccinate more residents and will look for new ideas to encourage people to seek shots.
“We intend to be very diligent every single day to increase vaccination rates,” he said. “This is absolutely imperative. … We have some vaccination deserts in our state that are very, very troublesome to us.”