By Kate Northrop
Ohio and Kentucky are trying new tactics to incentivize their residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, some of which involve a separate lottery for those who received a vaccine or a promotion to persuade individuals to get one.
States are trying to find ways to encourage people to get themselves and children vaccinated against the coronavirus. In one instance, Governor Phil Murphy in New Jersey announced earlier this month that "any New Jerseyan who gets their first vaccine dose in the month of May and takes their vaccination card to a participating brewery will receive a free beer."
Ohio and Kentucky are taking it a step further, offering a $1 million and $225,000 jackpot, respectively.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the $1 million lottery drawing in his Statewide Address last night.
"Two weeks from tonight, on May 26th, we will announce a winner of a separate drawing for adults — adults who have received at least their first dose of the vaccine," DeWine revealed. "This announcement will occur each Wednesday for five weeks, and the winner each Wednesday will receive one million dollars. The pool of names for the Ohio Vaccine Million Drawing will be derived from the Ohio Secretary of State's publicly available voter registration database."
DeWine said in the address that the government will make a web page available for people to sign up for the drawings if they are not currently in a database that the government is using. Participants must be at least 18 years of age on the day of the drawing, must live in Ohio, and must be vaccinated before the drawing to be eligible to win.
The Ohio Department of Health will be the sponsoring agency for the drawings, and the drawings will be conducted by the Ohio Lottery. Money to finance the drawings will come from existing federal coronavirus relief funds.
"I know that some of you are shaking your head and saying, 'That Mike DeWine, he's crazy. This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'" DeWine explained. "But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic, when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it, the real waste is a life that is lost now to COVID-19."
DeWine also announced a separate drawing for children who have been vaccinated.
"Getting [younger people] vaccinated is so important that we will have a separate incentive for them," DeWine said. "Two weeks from tonight on Wednesday, May 26th, we will announce the winner of a drawing of all those 17-year-olds and under who have been vaccinated, and the winner will receive a full four-year scholarship to any one of our state universities. This will include tuition, room and board, and books."
Next Tues., May 18, the government will open an online portal for children who have been vaccinated to register. The lottery drawing will be conducted on Wednesdays for five consecutive weeks.
The Kentucky Lottery is running a similar promotion to encourage residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
On Monday, the Lottery released a press release detailing how players can get a free chance at taking home the $225,000 Kentucky Cash Ball jackpot.
Kentucky Cash Ball is a nightly draw game that offers a $225,000 top prize for matching four numbers and a Cash Ball number, with several other prize tiers of lesser value. The odds of hitting the jackpot are 1 in 1.309 million.
The promotion, which started on Monday, offers a coupon for a free Cash Ball ticket to those over the age of 18 who get their first or second COVID-19 vaccination dose at a participating Kroger or Walmart location. There are coupons available for a total of 225,000 free Cash Ball tickets.
"We hope that by literally injecting a little fun into the process, more people will get vaccinated," President and CEO of the Kentucky Lottery Mary Harville said in a press release. "This is good for Kentucky's businesses, it's good for the Kentucky Lottery, and it's good for Kentucky college students counting on us through the scholarship and grant programs funded by our proceeds."
"I hope this shot at $225,000 will be the incentive needed for more Kentuckians to get a vaccine," Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said. "Helping keep our Kentucky communities safe and a free chance at winning hundreds of thousands of dollars is a win-win for everyone involved. Thank you, Kentucky Lottery, Walmart and Kroger, for this fantastic example of Team Kentucky spirit."
Players can participate in the promotion by receiving a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at any Kentucky Kroger location that have either a pharmacy or Little Clinic or at all Kentucky Walmart locations that sell lottery tickets. Combined, there are over 170 of these locations across the state.
After receiving a dose of the vaccine at an eligible location, an individual will receive a coupon for a free Cash Ball ticket. The offer is active until all 225,000 free tickets run out or through next Fri., May 21, whichever comes first. The coupons for free tickets are redeemable at any Kentucky Lottery retailer between now and Jun. 1.
"At Kroger, Our Purpose is to Feed the Human Spirit, which means we are called to do more and help make the lives of those around us better," Kroger Louisville Division President Ann Reed said in a statement. "The importance of this has never been more apparent than over the past year. Our industry, as well as others, has stepped up to serve everyday throughout the pandemic, and our teams have truly been heroes."
According to Reed, Kroger has vaccinated over 200,000 Kentuckians, but she says there is still much work to do.
"When Governor Beshear reached out for support, Kroger was ready and willing to help," Reed continued. "Our long-time partners at the Kentucky Lottery have created a fun and innovative way to encourage even more Kentuckians to get their vaccine and have fun while doing it."
Harville explained that the Lottery's efforts are part of a bigger picture — to get the state to the point of re-opening as soon as possible so that residents can return to a degree of normalcy.
"Through this effort, we can work to reach that crucial mark of two-point-five million Kentuckians vaccinated and re-open our state," Harville concluded. "When that happens and restrictions are lifted, I know businesses will welcome back customers — and customers will feel safer being out and about."