RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday a Pineville woman has become the second winner of the COVID-19 Summer Cash Drawing and Summer Cash 4 College Drawing.
Natalie Everett becomes the second adult to win the $1 million prize.
Everett talked with WCNC Charlotte on the phone Friday night, and said it has been a "surreal experience" since winning the lottery.
She explained that she first received a phone call from a number she didn't recognize a week before the news conference in Raleigh, and then she was asked to be part of a conference call with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
"On Wednesday, the day before the news conference, I called the North Carolina lottery department because they did issue the check," Everett said. "The lady there said 'oh, you're Natalie Everett, we have you paperwork right here.' It has been hard to believe. It has just been a very surreal experience."
Everett also explained she actually did not plan on getting the vaccine at first due to some concerns.
"I know the vaccine is scary," she said. "I was scared. I ended up talking to one of my favorite doctors in Charlotte, Dr. Melvin, and he advised me to get the shot. I trust my doctor wholeheartedly and I started to think about all the medications that the FDA approves and then takes off the market. With the FDA, any new medication is a risk."
She said negative reactions for people who have taken the vaccine have been minimal compared to the millions that have had a vaccine around the world.
Everett added she got her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on May 7.
"We all get comfortable and when we have a position like I did earlier this year, I would look things up on the internet to support my position," she said. "I never looked into the other side of people that experienced COVID."
According to Everett, she actually was diagnosed with COVID-19 on May 23, a little less than three weeks since getting the first dose of the vaccine.
"It was definitely from exposure, not the vaccine," she said. "It was terrifying. It gave me a whole new perspective of how dangerous this virus is. I would encourage everyone who is kind of in the middle (to get a COVID vaccine), maybe even the ones who don't want to consider it at all, to go on Facebook and look at the COVID recovery groups. You will see hundreds of stories from people going through it. People asking for prayers for their family members. People who have shared stories about their mother, then their father two months later, pass away and they had to say goodbye to their parents on an iPad."
Everett said she plans on buying a new car, taking a nice vacation and paying off some bills with the lottery winnings, and plans to save the rest of the money for her retirement.
She is also encouraging other people across the state to get a vaccine if they haven't yet.
"I was overwhelmed, not believing it. I still don't believe it," Wyramon said at the time. "Who believes you're going to win $1 million? It's absolutely unbelievable, my family's still in shock."
If you are 18 or older, a North Carolina resident, and at least partially vaccinated as of Sunday, June 20, you're automatically entered to win.
To find a coronavirus vaccine shot provider and appointment, visit http://MySpot.nc.gov.
Here's how the vaccination drawing works:
The North Carolina Education Lottery will conduct a random number generator drawing and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will determine the individual that corresponds to the number that is drawn. Every person who has been vaccinated is already in the state's secure COVID-19 Vaccine Management System.
"We drew one quote-unquote top-tier winner and then 20 alternates. If the person is unwilling to meet terms and conditions, if they don't return our phone call in 48 hours, if there's anything that impedes their ability to claim the prize we'll move on to the next alternate," Hattie Gawande, with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said.
The incentives haven't had much of an impact on vaccination rates yet, but there are two more chances to win big. Officials hoping the buzz around the first winners will encourage more people to protect themselves.
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