SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California on Friday selected 15 other people to win $ 50,000 each just for receiving the coronavirus vaccine amid hopes from state officials that the chance to make big bucks will convince skeptics of getting vaccinated before the wide reopening of the state next week.
The lottery-style draw selected the winners from the nearly 22 million Californians who received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. State officials identified the winners based on the county they lived in, with plans to contact them in the coming days.
Fifteen other people won the award last week. But state officials were unable to reach two of them. The two were replaced with alternate winners in Sacramento and Monterey counties, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
In addition to the $ 50,000 prizes, the state has pledged $ 50 gift cards to 2 million people who get vaccinated.
But the jackpot will be handed over on Tuesday, when Newsom oversees a draw in which 10 people each win $ 1.5 million. Newsom said on the same day he would lift the state’s stay-at-home order and end most restrictions on businesses, including allowing fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks in most areas. circumstances.
One of last week’s $ 50,000 winners was Nancy Gutierrez, 17, who is about to complete her freshman year of high school in the San Diego area. Newsom said the money would go to a savings account because Gutierrez is under 18.
“My only advice: don’t spend all that money. Invest it in your future and in your mind, ”Newsom told him at a press conference in Vista, Calif., Broadcast on the governor’s social media.
Gutierrez appeared with Newsom at the press conference, smiling while holding a microphone and answering questions from the governor as he acted as a game show host for the second week in a row. Gutierrez said she and her family initially didn’t believe the news she had won and encouraged everyone to get the shot.
“I think most of us want life to get back to normal and getting the vaccine would definitely help that,” she said.
Newsom said California has administered nearly 40 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine and that 70% of the state’s adult residents have received at least one dose.
Newsom said it would be “difficult” for the state to achieve a 75% to 80% rate of California residents vaccinated with a dose, but that he believes the cash prize has been an effective incentive.
Newsom said the state administered 1.43 million doses over the past week, an increase from at least one million doses administered the week before.
“Only a handful of states can claim to see a week-to-week increase in immunization doses administered,” he said. “We are here to celebrate this.
Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat contributed from Vista, California.