Gov. Cooper announces $1M cash lotteries to boost NC’s vaccination rates

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper announced a series of cash drawings for people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 in North Carolina.

The lottery is aimed to get more North Carolinians vaccinated – Cooper said around 2.5 million adults in the state are still unvaccinated.

“We’re pulling out all the stops,” Cooper said.

There will be four drawings for $1 million for those who are vaccinated and are 18 and older.

North Carolinians ages 12-17 who have gotten at least one shot are automatically entered into four drawings to pay $125,000 for a college education at a school of their choice.

The first drawing will occur June 23 and will happen every two weeks for the next three months.

Any one who gets vaccinated Thursday and forward will be entered into the lotteries twice.

No action is needed if you’re already vaccinate – you’re already enrolled.

“Regardless of who wins, there’s no way to lose. 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,” Cooper said.

North Carolina is using federal coronavirus relief funds for the drawings.

The lottery follows what states like California, Ohio, and New Mexico are doing.

“After seeing the benefit in other states, we believe this program will help get more North Carolinians vaccinated, making our state a safer place for everyone,” Cooper said. 

Vaccinated residents who register on New Mexico’s “Vax 2 the Max” portal can win prizes from a pool totaling $10 million that includes a $5 million grand prize, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced. 

Ohio and California are also offering lotteries that have shown some success in boosting vaccination rates. California previously offered the largest single prize of $ 1.5 million from a total lottery pool of $116 million. 

Ahead of the announcement, Cooper reached out to members of the Council of State seeking their concurrence. The council is a group of ten statewide elected officials that includes the governor. 

CBS 17 contacted all of them. Only Treasurer Dale Folwell (R) and Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said they voted not to concur.  

“Bribing people regarding a personal medical choice is yet another governmental overreach. The private sector has been giving away doughnuts and other incentives for weeks,” said Folwell. “It’s because of their skepticism about the vaccine, and to have to create a lottery to correct all that is just not something I’m in favor of.” 

Attorney General Josh Stein (D), Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler (R), Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson (R), Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D), and Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt (R) voted to concur. We did not receive replies from Auditor Beth Wood (D), and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R). 

Truitt said, “I agree with the treasurer that this smacks of government overreach, but I recognize that this is still a voluntary program at the end of the day. Because this incentive is about providing families and students with a choice to partake, or not, I will concur.”  

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