SAN DIEGO — At a vaccine lottery drawing in San Diego County Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced a 17-year-old Vista resident who won $50,000 last week through the program.
“When I found out that vaccines were available, I was really excited, because I could have more liberty with going outside,” Gutierrez, who got her shot in May, told Newsom during a brief Q&A. “I booked the appointments for my parents and we went.”
She never expected it to lead to such a significant sum entering her bank account.
Gutierrez says her dad works in landscaping and her mom has been staying home with her and her younger brothers while they attend school virtually during the pandemic.
“We didn’t believe it at the beginning,” Gutierrez said Friday, smiling as she recounted her mom receiving the call and the family’s feeling of disbelief. But “after a few more phone calls we were like, ‘OK I think this might be true.'”
Like all winners under 18 years old, the state will place the teen’s winnings in a bank account until she becomes a legal adult. “Invest it in your future,” Newsom said, noting the state’s “great public universities.”
Gutierrez is about to finish her junior year of high school and said she does have her eyes set on college, potentially majoring in business. For now, though, she’s just excited to spend the summer finally catching up in person with her friends, many of whom have also recently been vaccinated.
“I think most of us want life to go back to normal and getting the vaccine will definitely help that,” Gutierrez said. “Most of my friends have begun to start getting it.”
Gutierrez was one of three winners from San Diego County announced in the drawing last week, and Newsom said two of the three had been successfully contacted, while the third person could not be reached within the requisite 96 hours the state gives recipients to respond. A backup victor was selected.
Meanwhile, another San Diego County resident was picked Friday, giving the region four $50,000 winners total.
Anyone who has received even one COVID-19 vaccine shot by next Tuesday will also be eligible for the state’s grand prize: $15 million split between 10 Californians, with each person getting $1.5 million cash. You can read full details about the program here.