North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that the state will launch cash drawings for North Carolina residents who have gotten their COVID-19 vaccine.
How the vaccine lottery will work:
Over the next three months, four people will win $1 million each for being North Carolinians who have gotten at least one vaccine.
"Getting that first shot now will double your chances each time a name is picked," Cooper said. "Of course, the best reason to get vaccinated is to protect yourself and your family. Now that most people aren’t wearing masks in most places, unvaccinated people can be a real danger to each other."
North Carolinians 18 and over who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be automatically entered into four drawings for a chance to win a $1 million cash prize. Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be automatically entered into four drawings to win $125,000 toward post-secondary education.
“This is your shot at a million. Regardless of who wins, there’s no way to lose,” Cooper said. “A chance at $1 million 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.”
The $4 Million Summer Cash and Summer Cash 4 College Drawings will run from June 23 through Aug. 4. All North Carolina residents 12 and older who have been vaccinated with at least one dose are eligible, some restrictions may apply.
Those vaccinated on or after Thursday's announcement, June 10, will be entered twice for each drawing increasing the chance of winning for the newly vaccinated. Drawings will take place every other week on Wednesdays with the first drawing on June 23. New entries will close at midnight on the Sunday prior to the Wednesday drawing. Winners will be verified and then announced.
“Everyone who gets a COVID-19 vaccination is a winner,” said Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “They protect themselves, their loved ones and others from severe illness, hospitalization and death. Millions of people have already taken the vaccines. These summer cash drawings add another reward to the many that come with getting a COVID-19 vaccination.”
The $4 Million Summer Cash and Summer Cash 4 College drawings will use federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to fund the program. The drawings will be supported by the North Carolina State Lottery Director. The scholarship funds will be managed by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.
"Roy, give me the million dollars, and I'll get a million people vaccinated," Charlotte community leader Tia Brown said.
Brown hasn't received her shot yet, now, she's reconsidering.
"I'm healthy, but at the same time a million dollars now, that's a motivator, I'm not a millionaire -- I'm trying to be," Brown said.
State officials say they have been tracking the success of cash lotteries in other states, and say it's working.
"Ohio was the first state to launch such a program and they reported a 28% increase in vaccinations among those 16 and older in the first two weeks following their announcement," Cohen said.
Cooper says the winner can't stay anonymous and local and federal taxes will still apply. Cooper is now pulling out all the stops because he says another incentive means another step closer to normal.
"Whatever motivates people, we want to do what works," Cooper said.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How much is this cash lottery?
There are four drawings for $1 million each for those aged 18 and up. There are also another four drawings each with a scholarship prize of $125,000 for those between the ages of 12 and 17. The scholarship prizes can only be used for post-secondary education under a "529" North Carolina plan.
How can I know if I’m eligible, or if I've been entered into the lottery?
You are eligible if you are 18 or older, lived in North Carolina at the time of your vaccination, and received your vaccine in the state of North Carolina. If you received the vaccine in a different state but live in North Carolina, you will not be eligible for the lottery.
What if I am not a North Carolina resident, but I was vaccinated in NC?
Only North Carolina residents are eligible for the reward.
Where is the money coming from?
The prizes are being funded with state money provided by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund.
According to the Governor's Office, they have received or will receive more than $3.59 billion in Coronavirus Relief funds.
When do the drawings for prizes start?
The first drawings are on Wednesday, June 23. There will be drawings twice a week on Wednesdays through Aug. 4.
Do I have to make a purchase to enter the promotion?
You do not have to buy anything to enter or win.
How do the Scholarship Prizes work?
The College Foundation will reimburse winners' eligible education expenses as defined in the NC 529 plan program.
Are the drawings random? What are the odds of winning?
The drawings are randomly selected from all eligible people. The odds of winning are dependent on the number of entries at the time of each drawing.
Currently, 44% of North Carolinians aged 12 and up have at least one dose, and 54% of people 18 and up and received at least one dose. According to the census, there are currently about 8.2 million adults in North Carolina.
Can I give my prize to someone else if I win?
You can give your prize to someone else. That person will still be subject to state and federal taxes.
Are people vaccinated prior to the promotion still eligible?
Yes, those vaccinated before the promotion starts are eligible. Anyone vaccinated before gets one entry. Anyone vaccinated Thursday, June 10, or later will get two entries.
What is the notification protocol for drawing winners?
DHHS will contact winners through phone, email address, or physical address that was provided when that person was vaccinated. The winner forfeits the prize if DHHS is unable to get ahold of them.
If I got my vaccine in a different state but am a North Carolina Resident do I still qualify?
No, if you are a North Carolina resident you have to have had received the vaccine in the state at one of the DHHS vaccination sites.
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Past vaccine incentives in North Carolina:
This new program comes as the state's vaccination rate has leveled off and a pilot program that offered $25 cash cards in four counties showed promise in convincing some people to take the shot.
Local clinics, like the ones operated by StarMed Healthcare, said the $25 cash cards led to a significant increase in vaccinations.
"That's why we are looking at all of these incentives to try to get more people vaccinated," Cooper said. "We are not alone in this. Almost every state has faced a plateau that they've hit right now, so we've got to keep working and hope we can get there eventually."
According to the latest data from the Department of Health and Human Services, 54% of adults statewide have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to nearly 64% nationwide.
StarMed told WCNC Charlotte they've seen at least a 15% increase in demand after the $25 cards were made available. Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said the cards were effective, "probably even more so than we thought."
“It’s been an incredible success. Every day it gets bigger and bigger, more people are interested, more people are talking about it, so we've been really excited and encouraged by the success up to this point,” said Tracey Hummell, the chief operating officer of StarMed Healthcare.