PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s $1 million COVID-19 vaccine jackpot winner is a fine arts student at Oregon State University, officials announced on Friday.
Chloe Zinda, a McMinnville resident, says she plans to use the money to pay off student loans, pursue her dream as an artist and open her own studio.
“I never imagined that getting my COVID vaccine would lead to me being here today and meeting all these amazing people,” Zinda said at a press conference on Friday, where Gov. Kate Brown handed her a check.
Zinda said as a part-time swim instructor she decided to get the vaccine in the hopes of keeping her students safe.
“I’m really excited for our winner, but I’m also really excited for our state,” said Patrick Allen, the director of the state’s health authority. “Thanks to our winner, and the more than 2.3 million other Oregonians who have received at least one dose of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, COVID no longer holds Oregon so tightly in its grip.”
As the state crawled towards its vaccination target of 70% of adults partially or fully vaccinated in the state, the governor announced a list of incentives in May and June for people who got their shot. Among the prizes were vacation packages and $100 gift cards.
But the largest prize was $1 million. Adults who received at least their first shot were automatically entered to win the jackpot.
“Like all of our lottery games, even if you didn’t win, Oregon won — albeit in a bit different way,” said Barry Pack, the director of the Oregon Lottery. “Instead of generating revenue for schools parks and other good things, we helped Oregon reach the 70% vaccination target.”
In addition there is at least one $10,000 prize in each of Oregon’s 36 counties and people between the ages of 12 and 17 have a chance to win one of five $100,000 scholarships. Officials say that the winners of these prizes will be announced in the coming weeks.
A week ago Oregon reached the 70% of adults partially or fully vaccinated milestone.
As the demand for vaccines has begun to slow down, health officials are refocusing their priorities to getting shots in the arms of minority and underserved communities.
“We are going to continue our vaccination efforts and we are going to double down and make sure that every Oregonian that wants a vaccine will get one,” Brown said.
In a sign of slowing demand, the state’s first mass vaccination clinic at the Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center in Salem is set to close on July 24.
The clinic opened in January and more than 212,000 doses have been distributed there.
Sara Cline is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.