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Michigan's $1M COVID Lottery Winner: 'Just Protecting My Family'

Patch logo Patch 7/21/2021 Joey Oliver
Three more Michiganders will be winning large amounts of money because they received COVID-19 vaccinations. © Scott Anderson/Patch Three more Michiganders will be winning large amounts of money because they received COVID-19 vaccinations.

LANSING, MI — LaTonda Anderson of Grand Blanc said she was "just protecting my family" and trying to "protect people we don't know" when she and her husband got their COVID-19 vaccinations.

In the end, she did a lot more than that. She also won $1 million.

"I am a believer, a woman of faith, so I definitely will be giving back my talents and my offerings," Anderson said of how she will spend her winnings.

Anderson, 51, was Michigan's first $1 million prize recipient in its COVID-19 vaccination lottery, a plan the state is hoping will boost vaccination numbers to more than 70 percent by Labor Day.

Michigan announced its first batch of prize winners on July 14. The second-round winners were announced Wednesday, with Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and former Saturday Night Live star and Highland Park native Tim Meadows introducing the winners during a virtual news conference.

Anderson grabbed the $1 million prize and two others — Jenna Basaj of Sterling Heights and Paul Bareno of Rockford — took home $50,000 prizes.

Read More: Meet Michigan's 1st COVID-19 Vaccine Lottery Winners

The MI Shot To Win Sweepstakes has received a total of more than 2 million applicants for the grand prizes since it began July 1, with over 90,000 young Michiganders signed up for the college scholarship drawing as of Monday, officials said.

State health authorities have said repeatedly that the goal of the public outreach campaign is to provide incentives to Michiganders to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible this summer to get the state fully back to normal.

The MI Shot To Win Sweepstakes giveaway includes $5 million in total prizes, including 30 daily prizes of $50,000, a $1 million prize and a $2 million prize. For those receiving vaccines ages 12 to 17, there are nine four-year college scholarships.

Nearly 63 percent of Michigan residents age 16 and older have received at least their first dose of the COVID vaccine as of Monday, officials said.

Here is what the winners had to say Wednesday after they were intoduced by Gilchrist and Meadows.

Jenna Basaj of Sterling Heights

Basaj said she is a full-time nanny. She got her vaccine on July 5 at the Sterling Heights Meijer.

"I got my vaccine because after going through COVID and being away from my family and the kids that I nanny for so long, I realized that I wanted to keep myself and my family as safe as possible," Basaj said.

"Many members of my family and friends and co-workers, along with myself and my fiance, have all been harmed by COVID. 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 would use her prize money to go back to school and to start her own business.

Paul Bareno of Rockford

Bareno said he received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Family Fare Rockford, where he was able to walk in and quickly be vaccinated.

Bareno's intent for the prize money? Home improvement projects and a "much-needed vacation."

LaTonda Anderson of Grand Blanc

Anderson and her husband got their COVID-19 vaccinations at Flint Northwestern High School. After giving back to her community, Anderson said she aims to use the money for college tuition for her daughter.

She also said she was a vaccine advocate, urging family and friends to get their doses.

"They call me the true advocate because, in my opinion, it is the ultimate act of unselfishness to be able to (get the vaccine) and get the full effects," she said. "So my mom and dad are already vaccinated, my husband and I, my whole family were already vaccinated, and every time I talk to someone I'm always encouraging them to get vaccinated."

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