California to offer $116M in coronavirus vaccine prize money

Cheryl Sanders
May 28, 2021

In addition to the cash prize, 50 dollar gift cards are also being given to the first two million Californians who complete their COVID-19 vaccination. Nearly 63% of Californians aged 12 and older have received a vaccine dose, and case rates are now the lowest in the nation, Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

Beginning May 27, the next 2 million people who start and complete their COVID-19 vaccination will automatically be eligible for a $50 prepaid or grocery store gift cards from Kroger or Albertsons and their affiliates.

Newsom, a Democrat facing a likely recall election this year, said the money for California's program will be well-spent if it convinces reluctant residents to get vaccinated.

"These are real incentives", Newsom said during a press briefing Thursday announcing the program.


California's reopening is pegged for June 15, and on that day a drawing will be held to award 10 vaccinated people the top prize. Ten Californians who become inoculated before that date stand to win lottery-style prizes of US$1.5 million apiece, while another 30 people will each win US$50,000.

On Wednesday, Ohio awarded $1 million U.S. to Abbigail Bugenske, a Silverton woman who entered the state's Vax-a-Million drawing.

"This program is created to encourage those who need extra support to get vaccinated and help keep California safe", Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, director of the state's department of public health, said in a statement.

All this adds up to an incentive program that's a far cry from the single $1 million prize that was offered in OH, which ended up going to this 22-year-old woman living in a Cincinnati suburb.


CA is launching a $116.5 MILLION GIVEAWAY for vaccinated Californians! Joseph Costello, a high school student from Inglewood, won a full-ride scholarship, including tuition, books and room and board at an OH public university or college.

"Some Californians weren't ready to get their COVID-19 vaccine on Day One, and that's OK".

California uses a "vaccine equity metric" to track vaccination progress that splits zip codes into four quartiles from least to most advantaged.

The grand prize is part of a $116.5 million vaccine incentive program for vaccinated Californians.


By contrast, less than a quarter of people in the most advantaged areas haven't been vaccinated. That's the highest percentage of any racial or ethnic group. About 163,000 Californians were vaccinated Wednesday, he said, and two-thirds of them were receiving their second shot.

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