Michigan's COVID-19 vaccine sweepstakes: these are the first winners

It's been two weeks since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Michigan's COVID vaccine sweepstakes and, on Wednesday, the first four winners were announced.

The state announced it would be giving away $50,000 each day in July for people who receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on the given day. In other words, only people who received the vaccine on July 1 are eligible to win the $50,000 on July 1. The same is true for July 2, 3, 4, etc.

The state did not announce the winner of the $1 million drawing. That winner was supposed to have been selected earlier this week. The winners of the daily prizes were all notified before the announcement on Wednesday as they had to sign release forms first.

GET REGISTERED: Everything you need to know about the Michigan COVID-19 vaccine sweepstakes

Who won the first COVID sweepstakes?

University of Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins joined Whitmer in the announcement of the winners. 

Amber Berger from New Baltimore was the winner for the first prize, which means she was vaccinated on July 1. Hutchins said her husband, Andrew, is a lieutenant with the Roseville Police Department. Amber said she got her vaccine at Henry Ford Hospital in Clinton Township. She said she got her vaccine so she can leave for a trip on vacation with her husband and also to keep everyone safe.

She said she's experienced COVID first-hand based on her career as an RN and has a friend who has had long-hauler symptoms. 

Hutchins said Berger told them that she was not aware of the drawing when she was vaccinated.

Who won the second COVID drawing?

Protect Michigan Commission Director Kerry Ebersole Sing announced the second winner.

Adrienne Peterson from Southfield was the second winner but did not speak on video. She won the July 2 drawing and told the state that she was planning to use the money to buy a new house.

What are the odds of winning any of the prizes? They're actually better than you may think.

Who is the third COVID drawing winner?

Hutchins announced Chris Ackerman as the third winner after he was vaccinated on July 3. Hutching said that Ackerman told them that he was vaccinated that day because he "was tired of wearing a mask." 

Ackerman then spoke in a recorded video, saying that he didn't have any immediate plans with the money. He said the money came as a surprise and he was happy he's vaccinated.

"I'm safe, keeping my family safe, and look, I'm out here winning money," he said. 

Chris then encouraged others to get the vaccine as well so the state can get back to a better Michigan.

Who won the fourth COVID prize?

Larita Lee was announced by Sing as the fourth winner, who was selected on July 4. The retired General Motors factory worker is from Wyoming. She also has three children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Lee said she got her vaccine at the family fair pharmacy in Wyoming and said the sweepstakes prompted her to finally get the vaccine. She said she wishes she would have gotten vaccinated sooner so she could get her second shot and be protected against the Delta variant.

She's now encouraging her family to do the same because "you don't want to end up on a ventilator in a hospital."

Larita said she'll use the funds to put a downpayment on a new house.

Whitmer closed out the announcement, saying more winners will be announced in the coming weeks.

So far, more than 1.7 million have registered for the state's drawing, which includes daily winners of $50,000 for the month of July, a $1 million prize for people vaccinated before July 10, and a $2 million prize for all people who have received at least one vaccine by the end of July.

The sweepstakes, which includes scholarship drawing for teenagers under 18, was created as way to help Michigan reach 70% herd immunity against COVID-19. When it was announced on July 1, 61% of all eligible Michigan residents had received at least one dose. According to the state's vaccine dashboard, the state is now at 62.4%.