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California offers $116 million in prizes to vaccinated residents

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Built in the Bay
Built in the Bay
 22 days ago
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) The Golden State will offer all vaccinated residents a chance to win up to $116.5 million in prizes in an attempt to get every Californian vaccinated by June 15.

The plan, announced Thursday, will give residents a chance at ten payouts of $1.5 million, with the winners being chosen on June 15, to coincide with California's official reopening. Additional prizes include 30 $50,000 payouts with winners selected June 4 and 11.

Anyone who has at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot by the date of the drawing is eligible to win.

"Some Californians weren't ready to get their COVID-19 vaccine on day one, and that's OK," California Department of Public Health Director Tomás Aragón said in a statement, per Patch. "This program is designed to encourage those who need extra support to get vaccinated and help keep California safe."

California will also incentivize residents to get their first shot in the coming weeks with either a $50 prepaid card or a $50 grocery gift card for the next 2 million people who begin and finish their vaccinations.

The grocery gift card works at a number of stores across the state including Vons, Ralphs, Safeway, Food 4 Less, Albertsons, Pavilions, and Andronico's.

This comes weeks after Gov. Newsom hinted at a vaccine incentive program to KRON 4. He pointed to the mask mandate as a reason for vaccination declines in the state.

"I think the message on the mask mandate, interestingly I think, did the opposite of what was intended, which was to encourage people to get vaccinated," Newsom said.

According to state estimates, roughly 12 million people have not been vaccinated. The initial vaccine shortage eventually gave way to a surplus which led to a number of states offering vaccine incentive programs. Colorado, Maryland, New York and Ohio all began offering some form of vaccine incentives in early Spring but Californians Vax for the Win program is by far the most generous and most broad.

More locally, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health offered residents a chance to win Lakers tickets to residents who received the vaccine within a certain window. Similarly, health officials in Long Beach offered weekend getaways at hotels or a free Nintendo Switch to residents who got their first shot.

The incentive lottery in Ohio, a $1 million lottery prize, showed some promise with a huge uptick in vaccinations following the announcement of the lottery program. The 22-year-old winner, who was the first resident to win, spoke to the New York Times about winning.

"I thought it was a prank call initially," Vax-a-Million winner Abbigail Bugenske said. "I was screaming enough that my parents thought that I was crying and that something was wrong. I started yelling that I won a million dollars, and I was going to be a millionaire. ... I would encourage anyone to get the vaccine. If winning a million dollars isn't incentive enough, I don't really know what would be."

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