Lexington, Nicholasville students among ‘Shot at Million’ scholarship winners

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear congratulated the final set of winners in Kentucky’s Shot at a Million sweepstakes, the state’s incentive program to encourage Kentuckians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We offered this drawing as a way to encourage everyone to get one of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. The response we’ve had for this sweepstakes has been great,” said Beshear. “But even with this drawing and other incentives, we urgently need more folks to get vaccinated. The delta variant of COVID-19 is burning through our population in every corner of the commonwealth.”

Gov. Beshear initially announced the Shot at a Million sweepstakes June 4. In total, 762,174 adults entered to win $1 million and 47,544 youth entered to win a full scholarship. Since announcing the sweepstakes, 419,566 Kentuckians have received a COVID-19 vaccine. To date, 2,496,578 Kentuckians are vaccinated.

The Governor said Kentucky’s record COVID-19 hospitalizations highlight the need for even more Kentuckians 12 and older to get vaccinated like all of the Shot at a Million winners did.

Kentucky COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased every day without exception for the past 43 days, from 239 people July 14 to a new record of 2,115 people Aug. 26. Before the delta variant, Kentucky’s record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations was 1,817 on Dec. 17, 2020.

On July 14, there were 60 Kentuckians in the ICU for COVID-19; as of Thursday, there were 590. On July 14, there were 25 Kentuckians with COVID-19 on a ventilator; as of yesterday, there were 345. On July 14, the state’s COVID-19 test positivity rate was 3.81%, and it was down to a low of 1.79% June 24; Thursday, it was 13.24%, another new record high in the time since the state has had adequate testing supplies. Thursday was the second-highest day for new COVID-19 cases ever, with 5,401 new cases reported.

The Governor thanked winners for doing the right thing for themselves, their families and Team Kentucky, and said the final drawing was conducted Thursday, randomly selecting one adult Kentuckian for the $1 million prize and five youth to receive full-ride scholarships to a Kentucky public college, university, technical or trade school.

The winner of the $1 million prize is Mary Mattingly from Louisville. She expressed her appreciation via video at the news conference.

“At the time of the call I was excited, very grateful and a little overwhelmed. I still want to scream and run around, but I feel like I have to get serious,” Mary Mattingly said. “I felt so privileged to represent all of us that stayed home when needed, wore our masks, socially distanced, got tested and most of all, got the vaccine when it became available. 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. I want to use this opportunity to encourage each of you to get the shot of hope. The vaccines cannot stop every case, but they can greatly reduce your chances of acquiring a serious, long term or fatal case of COVID-19.”

The five Kentucky youth selected for full scholarships are:

  • Marissa Herron of Mount Washington
  • Lillie Nielsen of Nicholasville
  • Jordan Ballard of Crestwood
  • Grider Burch of Lexington
  • Jaden Wattley of Louisville

Marissa Herron, the daughter of Tessa and Raymond Herron, expressed her gratitude for the scholarship in a video message.

Marissa said: “I thank God for this opportunity, and I am so grateful for this.”

Lillie Nielsen, who attended the Governor’s press conference with her mother, Andrea Nielsen, stepfather, Peter Menner, and sister, Bailey Menner, said: “I got vaccinated not only for my health, but for my grandma and my older family members. I knew as soon as I could get vaccinated I would when it was opened up to teens. I’m just thankful I got vaccinated and felt like I had some control in protecting the people I loved most during a time of uncertainty.”

Her mother, Andrea, said: “We are so grateful for the many opportunities that winning this scholarship will provide for Lillie. We knew that getting vaccinated was important to and for our whole family, and when the Governor announced the Shot at a Million incentives, we signed everyone up. Many thanks to Gov. Beshear, Lt. Gov. Coleman and Kentucky for this amazing opportunity, and I encourage others to continue to protect themselves and their community by getting vaccinated.”

Jordan Ballard was joined by her mother, Lisa Ballard, and sister, Savana Ballard. Jordan said: “The reason I got vaccinated was to protect myself, my family and friends and to help stop the spread of COVID. I’m happy about the scholarship so that my parents don’t have to worry about paying for college.”

Grider Burch, who was in attendance with his father, Matthew Burch, said: “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. This scholarship means that my parents and I will not have to worry about the financial cost of my college education. I will have a chance of achieving my goal of being a graphic designer without starting out in financial debt.”

His father, Matthew, added: “Receiving the COVID vaccine is so important for the health, safety and well-being of ourselves, our loved ones and those we do not even know. I am grateful for Grider’s name being selected to receive this tremendous honor from the leaders of Kentucky.”

Jaden Wattley, who attended with his parents Bridget and Jamar Wattley and brothers Javion and Jaxton Wattley, said: “I came home yesterday to my mom telling me I have a conference call with one of my teachers, scared the living daylights out of me. Only to find out it was Gov. Beshear calling to give me a full ride to any college or university in the state. I was so overjoyed!”

Jaden’s dad, Jamar, added: “I want to thank Gov. Beshear for this opportunity. It is truly a blessing for me and my family and also as a frontline registered nurse. I have given vaccines. I have given monoclonal [antibody treatments]. I have taken care of the safest to the sickest people. It’s serious. Please get the vaccine. We’re tired, but we’re going to keep fighting the good fight. Help and do your part for us.”

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