Las Vegas resident Halim P. became a millionaire Thursday night after winning the grand prize in the final Vax Nevada Days event. He was one of 433 Nevadans awarded prizes during the event which was livestreamed from the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Halim, who invited his wife on stage as he accepted his prize, told Gov. Steve Sisolak he planned to pay off his house with the prize money.
A second award site was livestreamed from the Sierra Arts Gallery in downtown Reno where northern Nevada winners listened for their names to be called. Five Reno residents won some of the larger cash prizes, which ranged from $25,000 up to $100,000. A handful of students were also on hand to accept college savings plan awards.
Winners weren’t notified of their specific prizes before the event. Reno’s Tyler K., who won $25,000, said he was at a loss for words over his prize.
Vax Nevada Days is the promotion launched by Immunize Nevada and the State of Nevada to encourage people to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Nevadans 12 years and older who’ve received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine were eligible to win in the drawings.
Gov. Steve Sisolak said making Vax Nevada Days a big promotion was important in helping the state move beyond the pandemic.
“So, why make such a big deal out of COVID-19 vaccines? Because, as the scientists and health care experts keep telling us, vaccines are the only way we will end this pandemic once and for all,” the governor said. “The virus isn’t slowing down, so we can’t afford to slow our efforts either.”
The number of Nevadans getting vaccinated for COVID-19 began to increase as the giveaway progressed with more than 530,000 doses of vaccine administered since Vax Nevada Days was announced. As of Wednesday just before the final drawing the NV Health Response dashboard showed nearly 51% of eligible Nevadans have been fully vaccinated. More than 61% have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
In Washoe County 60% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
“If you are not vaccinated, you are more vulnerable to this disease and you are making your community more vulnerable to this disease as well.”
Vaccination cited as key to economic recovery
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority CEO Steve Hill also spoke at the start of Thursday’s event.
“Over the past 18 months here at the convention center we have served as a COVID test site, as a vaccination site, as a distribution facility for medical equipment and supplies. What we really want is to be able to get back to work doing what we really want to do, which is hosting conventions and shows,” he said. “This is only possible if we all get vaccinated.”
While the convention center may not be back to its pre-COVID business levels, business is booming elsewhere. The Nevada Independent reported Thursday that Las Vegas saw a record-setting July for gaming revenues with casinos on The Strip hauling in nearly $800 million.
Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority on the same day said Reno-Tahoe experienced a record-setting July for room revenues, bringing in nearly $54 million–the highest taxable room revenue ever recorded for the region for a single month.
Officials in Las Vegas and Reno credited pent-up demand, special events and “the spaciousness that travelers desire” as factors in the booming numbers.
Despite increases in vaccination and reimposed indoor mask mandates in many of Nevada’s counties, Nevada’s COVID-19 case rate has continued to rise. The latest surge appears to have peaked in mid-August. NV Health Response on Aug. 17 reported 1,120 new daily cases on a 14-day moving average statewide.
Hospitalizations and deaths have largely been among the unvaccinated.
“If you are not vaccinated, you are more vulnerable to this disease and you are making your community more vulnerable to this disease as well,” Sisolak said.
List of winners
Nearly 2,000 Nevadans have been awarded prizes throughout Vax Nevada Days. The winners whose names were announced during Thursday’s event along with their prizes are below.
Twenty winners of $5,000 college savings plans to be used for any post-secondary education, including:
- Ella B. from Las Vegas
- Dylan M. from Reno
- Erykah B. from Las Vegas
- Pan. G. from Las Vegas
- Nyomi B. from North Las Vegas
- Parker C. from Reno
- Lyssa B. from Sparks
- Jonas T. from Henderson
- Emily S. from Carson City
- Braelin J. from North Las Vegas
- Selia G. from North Las Vegas
- Shay F. from Las Vegas
- Crystal R. from Fernley
- Joshua G. from Las Vegas
- Jazmine S. from Las Vegas
- Landon B. from Las Vegas
- Nicholas C. from Las Vegas
Four winners of $20,000 college savings plans to be used for any post-secondary education, including:
- Rhian B. from Las Vegas
- Erick H. from Las Vegas
Three winners of $50,000 college savings plans to be used for any post-secondary education, including :
- Briana F. from Las Vegas
- Joshua A. from Las Vegas
Twenty $1,000 cash prize winners, including:
- James S. from Las Vegas
- Pamela N. from Las Vegas
- Carmen W. from North Las Vegas
- Emily R. from Las Vegas
- Kelly H. from Las Vegas
- Anita G. from Boulder City
- Lorian S. from Las Vegas
- Elizabeth M. from Las Vegas
- Justin K. from Battle Mountain
- Megan G. from Fallon
Four $25,000 cash prize winners, including:
- Elmer D. from Las Vegas
- Zoe C. from Reno
- Tyler K. from Reno
Three $50,000 cash prize winners, including:
- Dylan T. from Reno
- Tammey C. from Reno
Two $100,000 cash prize winners, including:
- Jacob G. from Reno
- Audrey S. from Henderson
Loreta M. of Las Vegas was selected as the winner of $250,000.
The event live stream is available on the Nevada Health Response YouTube channel.
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with 20 years’ experience working in communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. In her free time, she is a volunteer backpacking guide along the Tahoe Rim Trail, an avid home cook and baker, cyclist, wife and stepmom.