California Governor Gavin Newsom takes a turn as gameshow host as the state draws the first 15 winners of $50,000 prizes for vaccination against the coronavirus
“If you’re on the fence, if you’ve been a little hesitant or you were reluctant in the past, but all of a sudden you think, ‘Wait a second, I could really use $50,000,’ we’re all trying to encourage it and to inspire you to think afresh and act anew,” Newsom said at California State Lottery headquarters, where he shows the machine used to randomly pick the winners and the show. There was a Wheel of Fortune-style color wheel. .
It was the first in a series of pictures for $16.5 million in prize money aimed at encouraging Californians to get their shots before June 15, when the state plans to lift nearly all virus-related restrictions. So far 67% of eligible people 12 years of age and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The state aims to fully vaccinate at least 75% of the population.
Newsom announced the prize money last week, warning that the state’s vaccination rates were about to fall off a cliff without intervention. State officials said the vaccine rates had dropped by 18% at that time compared to a week earlier.
Newsom spokeswoman Erin Mellon said that since Californians were eligible to win money, vaccinations in that week were down 4% compared to the previous week. He said that one million vaccinations were done in the last one week.
Next week, another 15 people will win $50,000 and on June 15 there will be 10 grand prize winners, who will receive $1.5 million each—the largest of any vaccination prize in the country.
Winners will remain anonymous unless they allow the state to share their names, and they have 96 hours to claim their prizes before the state attracts alternate winners. The state will contact the winners.
Additionally, the state has begun providing $50 gift cards to people who receive the shots. More than 340,000 cards have been given so far and the state plans to distribute 2 million, for a total of $100 million.
Although vaccination has been slow, California is one of the leading states and has already exceeded Democratic President Joe Biden’s goal of ensuring that at least 70% of eligible adults get a shot by July 4. .
Newsom acknowledged that California’s virus cases are at record lows and that reopening will likely be hard to convince unvaccinated people to finally get their shots.
“Going from 70% of adults to 75% and beyond, it’s stubborn, it’s hard work,” he said.
State Sen. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and vaccine advocate, and Claudio Alvarado, a pediatric emergency nurse at UC Davis Medical Center, helped Newsom attract the first $50,000 winners. A machine cut the balls and individually knocked out the winning entries. The only information about the conquerors was the county in which they lived.
Populated counties accounted for most of the winners—three came from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Clara, and two from San Francisco. Alameda, Orange, Mendocino and San Luis Obispo counties had one each.
Over 21 million people are eligible to win the $50,000 prize. The state assigned random numbers to each person and then narrowed the list down to 200 numbers. The first 50 were placed in the drawing, and the remaining 150 would be used to select the next week’s winners or to replace any winner from Friday who did not claim the prize.
Anyone who has received at least one vaccine dose is eligible for the awards, with the exception of those who are in prison and who serve for the governor.