The winners were randomly chosen in advance, vetted to make sure they would accept, then presented their prizes in gameshow fashion on Thursday.
Before announcing Fox as the first winner, Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher said he was honored to award those who did the right thing.
“Why are we here today? There’s a lot of reasons why we’re here, and one of them is right behind my left shoulder,” he said, motioning to children splashing around in the Ridge Waters Water Park beside the pavilion. “We look over into the pool here and we have a group of young people that don’t have the opportunity to be vaccinated … by vaccinating ourselves and vaccinating our community, we make our community safer.”
The first five prizes were awarded by a modern bingo method. Before a large turnout of the community, Gallagher hit a big, red button and Fox’s name appeared on a screen to applause. Fox did the honors for the next winner, and so on.
Mark Bleken was the other $10,000 winner for the day, and LaDonna Black, Emily Loos, and Toby Richards each won $5,000 prizes.
Getting his vaccine was a no-brainer even before he won the big money.
“I’ve been encouraging everybody I can to get the vaccine,” he said.
Butte-Silver Bow County, which boasts the second highest rate of vaccination in Montana, just gave Bleken one more reason for hometown pride.
“I love this community and I wouldn’t leave it,” he said.
Thursday marked the beginning of a marathon of prizes to come. Two $10,000 prizes and three $5,000 prizes will be awarded each of the next 14 weeks. Drawings will take place at the Butte Civic Center at 2 p.m. on Thursdays.
The Town Pump Charitable Foundation donated the $500,000 for the sweepstakes under the condition Butte-Silver Bow use the same amount in federal COVID money for a media campaign.
The county complied and contracted with Lee Enterprises’ Amplified Digital Agency for the campaign. Lee also owns The Montana Standard.
The campaign stresses the safety of the vaccine, as supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the importance of getting it for the sake of everyone in the community.
Teaming up to keep folks safe, Montana Tech personnel created the method for random drawings.
- Gamestop Customer Experience Survey
- Jackson Hewitt Feedback Survey
- Talk to Stop and Shop at www.TalktoStopandShop.com
- Hen House Customer Satisfaction Survey
- Price Chopper Customer Survey
- BagelTalk Guest Experience Survey
A vaccine still hasn’t been approved for children under 12, and the virus and its variants remain in the community. As of Tuesday, 56% of the county’s eligible population was fully vaccinated, a total of 16,796, or about half the total population. Only Missoula County has vaccinated more.
Butte Silver-Bow aims to vaccinate 75-80% of its total population, said Health Officer Karen Sullivan.
At the podium, sweepstakes spokesperson Tom Staples stressed the importance of vaccination. It’s as easy as walking into Walgreens, CVS, Walmart or up to one of the many clinics offered by the county, he said.
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Butte-Silver Bow county announced the initial winners of its vaccination sweepstakes on Thursday, as it also begins a marketing campaign aimed at increasing the number of people who are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Ina G. Fox and Mark Bleken each won $10,000 in the COVID-19 Vaccine Sweepstakes while LaDonna Black, Emily Loos and Toby Richards won $5,000, NBC Montana reported.
The weekly drawings will be held each Thursday through Sept. 30, and will give away a total of more than $500,000 to vaccinated residents, officials have said.
The Butte-Silver Bow Health Department is also beginning a new marketing campaign emphasizing the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines to people ages 12 to 59. State data shows that 56% of the eligible population of Silver Bow County is fully vaccinated, among the best vaccinated rates in Montana.
“The majority of our community’s older people have pursued vaccinations,” health officer Karen Sullivan told The Montana Standard. “It’s the younger demographics we’re after, and our campaign will be speaking to them about the importance of being vaccinated against the virus.”