A COVID-19 vaccine is your shot at socializing again, and now it’s your chance to win big bucks.
A few states are giving people who have been vaccinated against COVID the opportunity to score anywhere from millions of dollars to tens of thousands in cash. Whether you spend that on work-from-home furniture, back-to-the-office non-stretchy clothes, or ketchup packets is up to you.
The idea was popularized in Ohio, where that state’s Vax-a-Million initiative drew the national spotlight due to its success in motiving residents to get vaccinated. The state is holding a $1 million lottery every week for five weeks, starting May 24. (Ohioans ages 12-17 are eligible to win one full scholarship to a Ohio state college or university per drawing.)
According to the Ohio Lottery and the Ohio Department of Health, the number of folks in the state who got their first dose went up 73%—from an estimated 74,000 between May 6-11 to more than 113,000 between May 13-18.
Vax-a-Million was introduced on May 13.
On Thursday, New York unveiled Vax & Scratch, which gives people receiving their first dose at one of 10 mass vaccination sites around the state a lottery ticket with a grand prize of $5 million.
The same day, Maryland announced its Vax Cash promotion—$40,000 daily lotteries for 40 days and a $400,000 drawing on July 4. The total jackpot giveaway is $2 million.
And on May 10, the Kentucky Lottery went the vax incentive route by offering a free lottery ticket to people getting vaccinated at certain Kroger and Walmart stores. Kentucky Cash Ball is a nightly game with a maximum payout of $225,000.
The sheer buzz about these lotteries will prompt people to get the shot, according to Duke University management professor Rick Larrick. The slim possibility of scoring a huge amount of money is more of a motivator than getting $5 cash in hand
“The thing that will get most people who are not resistors and truly hesitant types will be seeing other people doing it,” he says. “Anything that keeps people getting vaccinated will help get people on the fence off the fence. It’s overestimating low probabilities, and it’s the vivid picture of getting that money; this is why lotteries persist.”