As if public safety, social liberation, and free beer weren’t enough, Washington residents now have another reason to get their Covid shots: a potential $1 million prize.
Governor Jay Inslee announced yesterday that Washington would join Oregon, California, and other states in offering lottery incentives for jabs. Starting Tuesday, the Washington State Lottery will hold weekly cash drawings exclusive to people 18 and older who have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The first four weeks will cap the pot at $250,000. But on Tuesday, July 13, the haul will rise to $1 million.
Here's how it works. Vaccine early adopters, not just newbies, will automatically be entered into the lottery if they've gotten at least a single shot of a Covid-19 vaccine and they've been documented in the state Department of Health's immunization database, information that can be accessed here (it can take as long as 72 hours to be recorded, so procrastinators beware). The state is working to include Washington residents with doses captured only in federal systems; others who trekked out-of-state for jabs might be out of luck for now.
Like in other lotteries, each individual will be assigned a number. The Washington State Lottery will contact winners, who have three days to respond before their prizes get passed to someone else. And the drawings aren't cash only. The state will award a free year of college tuition to 30 families of 12-to-17-year-olds, in addition to giving state universities, colleges, and technical schools $1 million to disburse to vaxxed students. Other prizes include:
- Two free Alaska Airlines tickets to anywhere the company flies
- Four tickets or a full suite experience at an upcoming Mariners game
- Four tickets to a Sounders game in August, with two autographed jerseys to boot
- 10 (!) tickets to every Storm home game for the rest of the season
- Four season tickets to 2021 OL Reign games
- Four club-level seats (and parking passes) to a Seahawks game
- Climate Pledge Arena concert tickets (courtesy of the Kraken, apparently)
- Giveaways from a pool of 300 Xboxes and Game Passes, courtesy of Microsoft; 25 Google Nests; 100 Amazon Echo Dots; and an untold amount of Nintendo Switches.
Gift cards to local small businesses and Washington State Parks camping trips will also be available at vaccination sites.
But the lotto is the headliner. It arrives as Washington crawls toward the 70 percent vaccine initiation finish line that Inslee set for an expedited reopening. Currently, about 63 percent of Washington's 16-and-up population has received at least one dose, but the daily average of shots has dropped well below the state's target. Local public health departments have shamelessly offered giveaways for weeks. But the governor had recently hinted the state might up the ante on vaccine incentives with a lottery like Ohio's, where vax rates have climbed since the rollout of the drawings.
Let's hope the same happens here.