FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky's Shot-At-A-Million sweepstake, an incentive to get Kentuckians vaccinated against COVID-19, ended on Friday after Governor Andy Beshear announced the final set of winners.
Mary Mattingly of Louisville was the third Kentuckian to win the big prize of a million dollars this summer. 15 teens also won full-ride scholarships.
The contest was intended to motivate people to get the shot. However, many of the winners said they got vaccinated because they believe it was the right thing to do to protect themselves and others.
“I got vaccinated not only for my health, but for my grandma and my older family members," said Lillie Nielsen of Nicholasville, one of the scholarship winners.
“It is important to get the vaccine to keep us all safe, especially those who are immunocompromised and those who are unable to get the vaccine for various reasons," said Grider Burch of Lexington, another one of the scholarship winners.
"I did it for my amazing sons and their fabulous wives, for my four beautiful grandchildren whom I love to the moon and back, for my neighbors and friends, for health care workers, and for my husband and me," said million dollar winner Mary Mattingly. "I want to use this opportunity to encourage each of you to get the shot of hope."
So, did the sweepstakes work? Did it get more shots in arms?
Governor Andy Beshear believes it did. He says 419,566 Kentuckians have been vaccinated since the sweepstakes was announced.
However, it's difficult to pinpoint what exactly motivated those people to receive their vaccine. The Delta variant, a more aggressive coronavirus, hit Kentucky this summer and increased covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Beshear believes both the sweepstakes and the Delta variant likely inspired people to get vaccinated.
"It's a combination of both," said Beshear.
The governor explained that after the initial rush to get people vaccinated, the state's vaccination numbers began dropping. He says the contest stopped that.
"When we announced [the sweepstakes], it stabilized it," he said. "It was moving up some before the Delta variant took off. But certainly, since then, we have seen more people get vaccinated."
Beshear said the contest also kept the attention on the vaccines.
"In this contest, at the very least it created tens of millions of dollars of publicity about the vaccine," said Beshear. "That's the other reason you do one of these."
So, what's the next move? Beshear says incentives can only go so far. He believes the next step is having employers require the vaccine.
"The Delta variant is so serious, I think you're going to see a lot of private-sector or quasi-public sector entities requiring vaccinations," said Beshear. "I think we've seen Bellarmine and Transylvania that are going to require it. We have seen others that are going to require testing from their employees if they won't get vaccinated."
"That's the next major driver," Beshear added. "Especially as Moderna becomes fully FDA approved, I think we'll see a lot more of it."