Five vaccinated Coloradans will be selected to win $1 million each between June 4 and July 7, Gov. Jared Polis announced Tuesday, mirroring incentive programs in other states as vaccination rates lag here.
The winners will be picked on five days, beginning next Friday, Polis said. The first winner will be announced June 4, and anyone who has been vaccinated before the Tuesday announcement is still eligible. The next three winners will be selected on June 11, June 18 and June 25, all Fridays. The final winner will be picked July 7, a Wednesday.
There's no need to register for the lottery; all vaccinated Coloradans 18 years of age and older will be automatically eligible from the state's immunization information system.
Polis said a similar effort in Ohio had led to a double-digit percentage bump there, particularly among young adults.
He said that the $5 million, which is coming from federal CARES Act funds, would otherwise be spent on messaging and TV campaigns, and that this effort will yield better results.
The odds of winning, the governor said, are roughly 1 in 500,000, which he noted are "very good odds," particularly compared to lottery contests.
Jennifer Anderson of the state lottery system said anyone can opt out of receiving the money and that several alternates will be drawn alongside the winner. Each vaccinated resident older than 17 will be randomly assigned a number, which will be selected on each winning day. The state Department of Public Health and Environment will then reach out to the winners.
To qualify for the final drawing on July 7, Coloradans will need to be vaccinated by June 30. To qualify for any of the drawings, residents must have been vaccinated with at least one dose. The money will come in a lump sum and is still subject to taxes.
"This is $1 million, cash on the barrel you can use today," said Polis, who was visibly excited announcing the program. "Buy a new home, take that vacation, take six months off. Do whatever you like, $1 million goes a long way."
He then quoted the movie "The Hunger Games," though he intended the quote in a more positive way than the dystopian, fight-to-the-death film.
"May the odds be forever in your favor, Colorado," he said.
Polis spokeswoman Shelby Wieman said the lottery, known as Colorado Comeback Cash, is the state's primary incentive push but said there's been "consideration" for people younger than 18.
Polis said the state is looking into scholarships for those between the ages of 12 and 17 and that details for that contest will be announced later.
The effort mirrors what states such as Ohio, Delaware and Maryland have implemented, though Colorado's program is richer than those incentives. It comes as Colorado continues to see some stagnation in its vaccination rates despite total eligibility and the removal of nearly all COVID-19 restrictions statewide.
As of Tuesday morning, 2.94 million Coloradans have been vaccinated with at least one dose, more than half of the state's population.