‘It’s your shot at a million’: Gov. Cooper announces Covid-19 vaccine lottery

Vaccinated North Carolinians will now have their shot at $1 million.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday all adult state residents who receive at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine from a provider will automatically have their name entered into a cash lottery.

Over the next three months, four winners will be announced for a $1 million prize.


Teenagers ages 12 to 17 who get at least one shot will be entered into four drawings to receive $125,000 to put toward a college education.

“Regardless of who wins, there’s no way to lose,” the governor said in a press conference. “A chance at a million dollars or a college scholarship is pretty good motivation. But even if your name isn’t drawn, the worst you’ll do is get strong protection from a deadly virus.”

RELATED: Governor Roy Cooper rallies vaccine staff in visit to Wilmington

The first drawing will take place June 23. Names will be pulled every other Wednesday until the final drawing on Aug. 4.

Approximately 2.5 million adults in North Carolina have still not received the Covid-19 vaccine. Anyone who receives their first shot following Thursday’s announcement will have their name entered twice into the lottery, doubling their chances.

The cash prizes will be paid for using federal coronavirus relief funds, Cooper said. Winners must allow their names to be public to accept the reward.

In May, the state Department of Health and Human Services launched a Summer Cash Card program in four counties to promise everyone who received a first dose or drove someone to their vaccine appointment a $25 cash card. Cooper said the response is promising, and the program is expanding into more counties soon.

The decision to bring the lottery incentive to North Carolina, though, came after evaluating the success of similar efforts in other states, such as Ohio. After announcing the lottery, Ohio reported a 28% boost in vaccinations in two weeks.

“We know vaccines are the key to beating the virus,” Cooper said. “The proof is overwhelming and irrefutable. Vaccines are safe and effective. They protect you and those around you. If you don’t believe Dr. Cohen and me, ask your doctor.”

North Carolina is among a slew of other states that similarly introduced a lottery pool to increase vaccine participation (Louisiana even threw in a pound of free crawfish for each dose at one inoculation event). While the prospect may excite some residents, N.C. State Treasurer Dale Folwell condemned the marketing tool. Folwell –– who personally had a near-death experience with the virus –– called the state’s vaccine rollout a “disaster.”

“Bribing people regarding a personal medical choice is yet another governmental overreach,” he wrote in a statement.

The Covid-19 case count in North Carolina surpassed 1 million in late May. Since Wednesday 464 new cases were reported and on Thursday, 548 patients were in the hospital for the virus statewide. More than 13,000 people have succumbed to the virus.


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