Colorado officials are betting that a chance to win big money will persuade residents to get vaccinated.
Gov. Jared Polis during a news briefing Tuesday announced a series of drawings in which Colorado adults could win $1 million. The main criteria? Be vaccinated for COVID-19.
“May the odds be ever in your favor,” Polis said, quoting “The Hunger Games.” In the movie, those words preceded a battle to the death between children as a form of entertainment, but Polis hopes the chance to win a huge sum of cash will convince people to protect themselves from a virus that has killed more than 6,600 people in the state.
The state plans five drawings as part of what officials call “Comeback Cash,” on June 4, 11, 18 and 25, and July 7. One person will win $1 million in each of the drawings, meaning the state will have given out $5 million in prizes as part of the program. Anyone who has received at least one shot of one of the three authorized vaccines by the drawing deadline — the first deadline is June 1 — is automatically entered in the drawings. Eligible contestants must be:
- Resident of Colorado
- At least 18 at the time of winning
- Vaccinated with at least one dose
The state will also announce an additional scholarship prize for vaccinated Coloradans age 12-17 as part of Comeback Cash, Polis said. Comeback Cash is being run by Colorado Lottery in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, though in legal terms the program offers not a “lottery” but a “drawing.”
“Everybody who has already gotten vaccinated can be part of this drawing,” Polis said. “Five Coloradans will be walking away with a million-dollar giveaway, Comeback Cash, that you can use on whatever you like simply by taking the sensible step of being vaccinated.” The chances of winning are about 1 in 500,000.
Polis said 58.5% of Coloradans have gotten their first dose and 51.5% — or 2.5 million people — are fully vaccinated.
The state established the prize-money drawing after seeing similar programs work in other states, such as Ohio, New York and Maryland, Polis said. Ohio has seen a “surge” in vaccinations following the introduction of its lottery for vaccinated people, he said, adding that he thinks the drawings will be more effective than other forms of outreach such as advertising.
“Now’s the time to swing big and transform your life,” Polis said. “Buy a new home, take that vacation, take six months off, do whatever you like. A million dollars goes a long way.”
As with Ohio’s program, called “Vax-A-Million,” Colorado’s prize-money program is funded by federal coronavirus relief money.
Jennifer Anderson, deputy director of Colorado Lottery, joined Polis during the briefing. The drawing will protect the privacy of vaccinated Coloradans and the security of their information, Anderson said. “If you do not wish to be part of the drawing or to claim the prize, you have every right to decline to do so,” she said.
For more information about how to sign up for vaccination, visit cocovidvaccine.org or call 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926).
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:42 p.m., May 25, 2021, to add links to more information about Comeback Cash.