3 San Diegans win $50K in state’s first vaccine lottery drawing

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SAN DIEGO — The state just picked the first 15 $50,000 winners in the state’s COVID-19 vaccination incentive program, and three lucky winners are from San Diego County.

The prize recipients remain anonymous for now, identified only by a number and their region. The state will reach out to winners directly about the funds and request their approval to share their information publicly.

In a game-show-like format, Gov. Gavin Newsom presided over the selection of winners. The pool of 21.5 million eligible residents was initially randomly pared down to 200, then winnowed to 50. The final selection was done using a Bingo-style machine, with 50 numbered balls dropping into a twirling cylinder, from which the 15 winners were chosen.

The trio of San Diego victors weren’t the only ones from Southern California: three winners were drawn from Los Angeles County and one from Orange County.

Winners will be notified by phone by the California Department of Public Health. If the agency can’t immediately reach them, it will keep trying via telephone, text, email or other contact information associated with the person’s record in the state’s vaccine registry.

If they can’t reach the winner for 96 hours after the first try, the prize will go to someone else, according to state officials.

California’s incentive program will hand out a total of $116.5 million in prizes, part of the final push to get shots in arms before the state lifts nearly all health restrictions on June 15. You can read full details about the different categories here.

The next batch of 15 winners to get $50,000 will be announced next Friday, June 11.

Any California resident age 12 and older who got at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot is automatically entered to win the cash prizes — regardless of their immigration status.

The program is also giving out $50 prepaid or grocery cards to the first 2 million Californians who got the jab starting on May 27.

Newsom said Friday more than 38.6 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the state, with 52% of the state’s population now considered fully vaccinated. More than 70% of the state’s adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine, he said.

“So we’re here proud, but also mindful of the work that’s in front of us, particularly in this light — I’ve said this often, getting from 30 to 40 percent of people vaccinated, that’s an easy 10 percent. Moving from 70 percent of adults to 75 and beyond, that’s stubborn. That’s difficult work,” Newsom said.

“I know some are cynical about these things, some are in denial that they should have any role to play as it relates to doing the right thing, and that’s getting a life-saving shot that will not only support your own success throughout this pandemic, getting us to the other side, but also supporting the health and safety of your loved ones, the broader community and the state and nation,” he said.

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