Ten vaccinated Californians, including four from Los Angeles County and one from Riverside County, were chosen Tuesday to receive $1.5 million apiece as part of the grand-prize drawing in the state’s COVID-19 vaccine incentive program.
After being welcomed outside Universal Studios Hollywood by several minions from “Despicable Me” and Optimus Prime from “Transformers,” Gov. Gavin Newsom marked the reopening of California’s economy and end of most COVID-19 restrictions by picking the winners of a $1.5 million cash giveaway to vaccinated residents.
Other winners included residents from Marin, Santa Barbara, Sacramento, Stanislaus and Ventura counties.
Like in previous drawings, the event had the appearance of game shows, with Newsom helping to pick the winners from a lottery ball machine. Similarly, the winners were identified during the draw only by anonymous numbers and the county they’re from in an effort to protect their privacy.
Winners will be alerted by the California Department of Public Health via telephone, text, email or other information from their record in the state’s vaccine registry. If they can’t be reached for 96 hours after the first notification attempt, the prize will go to someone else.
Tuesday’s giveaway was the third round in the state’s “Vax for the Win” program, which has offered $116.5 million in cash prizes and other gifts to residents who get the COVID-19 shot.
Any California resident age 12 and older who received at least one dose was automatically entered to win the cash prizes, regardless of their immigration status.
Newsom announced the program last month as a way to prod residents in the state to get the potentially life-saving jab. To date, the program has given away $50,000 cash prizes each to 30 winners.
The state is also giving away $50 gift cards to the first 2 million people who got vaccinated beginning May 27.
“We are here because of your hard work,” Newsom said at Tuesday’s event. “California is open again, California has turned the page, and let us all celebrate this remarkable milestone.”
As of Monday, nearly 19 million Californians were fully vaccinated, and 3.7 million residents were partially vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine progress dashboard.
Meanwhile, the state's vaccination incentive program is not yet ending.
On Monday, Newsom announced that the state will offer six "dream vacation" incentives to entice more residents to get vaccinated.
The newest incentive is also aimed at jump-starting the recovery of the state's beleaguered travel and tourism industry after more than a year under stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions.
Winners could win a trip to one of California's gateway destination cities, including Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Palm Springs. Additionally, Newsom said that winners will receive an additional $2,000 to offset travel costs and will have some meals covered through a variety of “culinary experiences.”
Californians aged 18 and older who have received at least one vaccine dose will be automatically entered for a chance to win one of the getaways.
The first prize drawing for the vacation packages will be held on July 1.