California joined Ohio and other jurisdictions that are awarding cash prizes and other incentive for people to take the coronavirus vaccine.
Both states are experiencing very low rates of new infections at the moment, but officials want to reach herd immunity.
In a statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom described the new prizes (original emphasis):
More than 62.8 percent of Californians aged 12+ are at least partially vaccinated, but an estimated 12 million people who are eligible still have not gotten a vaccine to protect their health and the well-being of their communities.
All Californians aged 12+ who are at least partially vaccinated are automatically eligible for the cash prize drawings taking place in June. Thirty winners in total will be selected for the “$50,000 Fridays” cash prize drawings on June 4 and June 11, totaling $1.5 million. On June 15, $1.5 million will be awarded to 10 lucky Californians – for a grand total of $15 million in cash prizes. Winners must complete their vaccination in order to claim their prize. If someone under 18 wins, the cash will be put in a savings account for them until they turn 18.
Beginning on May 27, the next two million people who begin and complete their COVID-19 vaccination will automatically be eligible to receive a $50 prepaid or grocery card, worth a total of $100 million. It gives them the option to select from a $50 Virtual Prepaid Card (which can be spent online, in-store where major debit cards are accepted, or added to a mobile wallet to be used to shop in stores that accept mobile wallets), or a $50 grocery gift card from Kroger (which includes Ralphs, Food 4 Less and Foods Co.) or Albertsons (which includes Safeway, Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions and Andronico's Community Markets), while supplies last. Californians will receive a text message with an electronic prepaid card redemption code sent to their mobile phone or email address 7-10 days after their two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna, or single dose of Johnson and Johnson. An incentive card will be held for those who start their vaccination at the launch of the program.
In Ohio, a 22-year-old woman became the first of five $1 million winners in the state's vaccination lottery; she was already vaccinated when the contest began.
Los Angeles is offering a chance to win season tickets to the Kings (hockey) and Galaxy (soccer).
The lotteries have raised questions about how states and cities are spending federal stimulus funds, which had few restrictions — except for the provision that they not be used to offset tax cuts, a provision that is being challenged in court.
Newsom in particular has faced criticism for spending large amounts of money on stimulus payments to residents while he faces a recall election. The state has a $75.7 billion budget surplus, even without $26 billion in federal stimulus allocations.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.