OSU student plans to use $1 million COVID-19 vaccine prize to fund future

Oregon State University fourth-year fine arts student Chloe Zinda, left, and Oregon Governor Kate Brown hold an oversize check for $1 million, the grand prize for the “Take Your Shot, Oregon” campaign. Zinda plans to pay off school loans and invest the money into buying a house or art studio of her own. 

Cara Nixon, News Contributor

As the winner of Oregon’s $1 million COVID-19 vaccine prize, Oregon State University fourth-year art student Chloe Zinda said the money will help fund her future as an artist. 

Zinda plans to use her vaccine lottery winnings to pay off her school loans. Additionally, she wants to save and invest some of the money, so she can eventually buy a house or open her own art studio. 

Zinda, who received her COVID-19 vaccine in early May, didn’t even know about the Oregon Health Authority’s “Take Your Shot, Oregon” campaign. The campaign was announced on May 21 and gave Oregonians aged 12 and up the chance to win money or scholarships after being vaccinated. 

Those who were vaccinated were placed into a drawing for one $1 million winner, five $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan education scholarship winners and 36 $10,000 winners in each county. 

“The state is employing a number of strategies to encourage vaccination,” Charles Boyle, deputy communications director for the Office of Governor Kate Brown, said in an email. “The ‘Take Your Shot, Oregon’ campaign is one strategy among many.”

After missing an initial phone call from the OHA, Zinda received a voicemail and text telling her she had won $1 million, which completely shocked her. 

“When I got off the phone, I ran downstairs screaming to my sister,” Zinda recalled in an email. “I called all my family members and shared the news, which was very fun and exciting. After that I just kept thanking the universe for my luck. I had never imagined something like this would happen to me, so it took multiple days for it to really sink in.”

Zinda said she decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine not only to protect her own health, but also to protect those around her. 

“I also am a swim instructor and so it was important to get vaccinated to keep my students safe,” Zinda said. 

Steve Clark, vice president of University Relations & Marketing at OSU, said the university is excited about Zinda’s vaccine lottery win and thrilled by her commitment to protecting her own and others’ health. 

“We hope all OSU students and Oregonians statewide are inspired by Chloe being vaccinated and winning this prize,” Clark said. “We urge everyone to become vaccinated as they are able. We look forward to seeing Chloe on campus in Corvallis this fall.”

Boyle said over 2.4 million Oregonians have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose so far. The “Take Your Shot, Oregon” campaign was just one strategy employed by the state to encourage citizens to get their vaccine.

Oregon, according to Boyle, has also been implementing more and smaller vaccine clinics, partnering with community groups to publicize and raise awareness about the vaccine, using advertising campaigns and providing information to Oregonians about getting vaccinated whenever possible. 

“Each strategy adds a little energy to the overall effort,” Boyle said. “While it is not possible to measure the specific impact of any one of these strategies separate from the others, we are confident that these strategies, taken together, are helping Oregon continue to increase vaccination rates over what they would be otherwise week over week.”

Though cumulative and daily vaccination rates have continued to level off in Oregon, the state has exceeded its 70% vaccinated goal.

“Incentives are meant to give an extra nudge to those folks who have been waiting to get vaccinated for a variety of reasons, so as we exceed 70% statewide, we expect incentives to continue to play an important role in reaching those Oregonians,” Boyle said.