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Jul. 4—A Winslow woman has won almost $900,000 in Maine's statewide COVID-19 vaccine lottery, Gov. Janet Mills announced on Sunday.
Kay Spofford received two doses of vaccine in January and February and was selected in Thursday's drawing for the prize, which is $1 for each person who received at least one dose in Maine — as of Sunday, $896,809. In an announcement of Spofford's win Sunday, Mills's office did not say which vaccine Spofford received.
"It is a pleasure to congratulate Kay on winning big in the Don't Miss Your Shot: Vaccinationland Sweepstakes," Mills said in a news release. "On this Fourth of July, I thank Kay and all Maine people who have rolled up their sleeves to declare their independence from COVID-19. If you haven't been vaccinated already, there's still no better time to take this critical step to help Maine put the pandemic behind us."
Spofford, a dialysis dietitian in her early 60s, told the governor's office that she got vaccinated as soon as possible in order to protect her patients and family. Winning close to a million dollars in exchange feels "surreal," she said in the news release from state officials.
"It still feels surreal that I'm the winner of the sweepstakes," Spofford said. "My husband and I strive for a simple life, but this money will give us peace of mind in our retirement and allow us to make repairs to our house and travel to visit our children and our grandbaby on the way. I encourage everyone in Maine to get vaccinated to keep themselves and others safe and to help Maine continue leading the fight against COVID-19."
In a joint statement, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah and Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew also urged Mainers to get their shots.
"We extend our congratulations to Kay Spofford on not only winning the sweepstakes, but on protecting herself, her patients, and her community by getting vaccinated against COVID-19," Shah and Lambrew said. "People across Maine are able to gather safely to celebrate this Fourth of July thanks to people like Kay. These vaccines are safe, effective, and free. If you haven't yet rolled up your sleeve, we urge you to visit a vaccination clinic as soon as you can."
People who received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by 11:59 p.m. on June 30 were eligible to enter the lottery. State officials received 350,256 entries, they said Sunday.
Numerous other states have also introduced sweepstakes with cash prizes as an incentive to get the public vaccinated. Those include California, Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and several others.
Public health authorities in Maine are still working to vaccinate the public, and on Sunday, they encouraged those who haven't gotten their shots to do so. Vaccines for COVID-19 are free and widely available; to find a vaccination site, visit the state's website or call 1-888-445-4111.
As of Sunday morning, 789,817 people had received a final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That's 66.70 percent of the eligible population age 12 and over.