In the latest and most extraordinary effort yet to boost California’s flagging COVID-19 vaccination rates, state officials on Thursday announced what appears to be the largest inoculation incentive in the nation: the chance for 10 residents to win $1.5 million apiece.
The goal of the multimillion-dollar giveaway is simple: Give residents every possible motivation to finally roll up their sleeves as the state’s vaccine rollout enters its crucial next phase.
Those prizes — along with 30 additional awards of $50,000 each — are open to Californians who have gotten at least one dose. Those who have previously received their shots will be entered into the drawings automatically, and there is no need to register, according to state officials.
“These are real incentives. These are an opportunity to say thank you to those not only seeking to get vaccinated as we move forward, but also those that have been vaccinated since we first availed those opportunities a number of months ago,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.
The grand prize recipients will be chosen June 15, the date the state is set to fully reopen its economy. The $50,000 winners will be selected in two batches, half on June 4 and the rest on June 11.
Should someone under 18 win, the prize will be put in a savings account until they come of age.
Additionally, starting Thursday, the next 2 million people who begin and finish their COVID-19 vaccine series will automatically be eligible for either a $50 prepaid gift card or a $50 grocery card that can be used at supermarkets such as Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions, Safeway and Andronico’s.
Prospective winners can decline the award, or they can accept and remain anonymous, though they are permitted to make their award public, Newsom said. All California residents are eligible, regardless of immigration status, with some exceptions, such as people who are incarcerated and some government employees, including workers for public health departments and the California State Lottery.