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Reese Johnson Wins Shot At A Million Scholarship

17-Year-Old From Salvisa Plans To Attend UK, Become A Teacher

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Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman congratulates Reese Johnson, a 17 year old from Salvisa, for winning a full ride scholarship to the college of her choice.

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

Sherry Johnson said she first thought a voice message she received last week from the governor’s office was a scam. But Johnson’s family—especially her daughter, Reese—is glad she didn’t delete it, because the message informing them that Reese had won a full-ride scholarship to a Kentucky public university was real. Very real. As in travel to the state capital and be congratulated by the governor.

Reese Johnson is one of the second set of winners in Kentucky’s Shot at a Million sweepstakes, the state’s vaccine incentive program against COVID-19. She and four other young Kentuckians—Shelby Anderson of Louisville, Isabella Brozak of Crestwood, T.J. Ponder of Owenton and Julian Sandberg of Ft. Mitchell—are receiving full-ride scholarships to the Kentucky public college, university, technical or trade school of their choice. That includes tuition, room-and-board and books.

Ginger Schultz of Louisville won the $1 million prize.

The winners attended a press conference on Friday, July 30.  The Johnson family—Reese, her sister, Rylie, and her parents, Sherry and John Mark all drove from Salvisa to Frankfort. Reese thanked Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman.

“I consider myself very blessed to have been given this opportunity,” Reese said Friday. “I think everyone should be vaccinated, and it’s nice to be rewarded for doing what I think is right! Besides being stuck with a needle, getting vaccinated wasn’t so bad. I had zero side effects and it’s worth knowing that I am protecting myself, my family and friends. Get a shot, save a life, it could be yours.”

Winning is kind of a big deal. The Shot at a Million sweepstakes is open to permanent residents of Kentucky who have received at least the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Since Gov. Beshear announced the sweepstakes in June, more than 692,000 adults and 40,900 youth have signed up.

Sherry Johnson said Reese, who is 17, wants to attend the University of Kentucky, where she intends to study to become a teacher.

“She’s wanted to be a teacher since she was three years old,” Sherry said. She said her daughter used to line up her dolls and teach them.

Getting a full ride scholarship is a tremendous advantage, considering the  average student loan debt at public colleges and universities is $30,030. Sherry said she was glad she didn’t trust her first instinct when she received the message.

“I called them anyway,” Sherry Johnson said. “The rest is history.”

The Johnsons encourage everyone that can be vaccinated to get vaccinated. They allowed Reese to make the decision for herself, and they said they were proud she had done the responsible thing.

According to the Mercer County Health Department, five out of 10 county residents over the age of 19 are vaccinated. The final drawing will take place on Thursday, Aug. 26. Those who have not won remain eligible for the final drawing, which offers $1 million to Kentuckians 18 and older who have received at least their first dose of a Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and five full scholarships to a Kentucky public college, university, technical or trade school to Kentuckians 12 to 17 years old who have received at least their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information, official rules and to enter, visit

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