Maryland holds $2M lottery for COVID-vaccinated residents

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The Maryland Lottery is giving away $2 million in 41 consecutive lottery drawings for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 — the state’s latest promotion to encourage people to get inoculated.

Starting Tuesday, the Maryland Lottery will hold the first of 40 consecutive daily drawings for a $40,000 prize. On July 4, the drawing will be for $400,000.

“Get your shot for a shot to win,” Hogan said on the lawn of the governor’s residence, with a man dressed as a large lottery ball standing by him.

To be eligible, a participant must be a Maryland resident who is 18 and over who has been vaccinated in the state. Everyone who has been vaccinated will be automatically entered into the drawing.

“If you’ve not been vaccinated yet, the sooner you do so, the sooner you get your shot, the more lottery drawings you will be eligible for,” Hogan said. “All winners will be notified by the Maryland Department of Health, and all funding is being provided from the Maryland lottery’s marketing fund.”

Ohio announced a lottery incentive last week. Hundreds of thousands of people have entered that state’s vaccine lottery, which will award five $1 million prizes and five full-ride college scholarships, according to state officials, who say they’ve seen signs of a boost in vaccines since the program was announced.

Gordon Medenica, Maryland’s lottery director, emphasized that privacy will be maintained. Maryland does not require lottery winners to publicly disclose their identity.

In a partnership with the lottery and the health department, each Maryland resident who has been vaccinated in Maryland will be randomly assigned a number in a secure system maintained by the department, which serves as the custodian of Maryland’s vaccination records. Separately, the lottery will use a random number generator to select a winning number each day from the total number of people who have been vaccinated.

Maryland has administered 5.7 million vaccines. More than 87% of people over 65 have been vaccinated, as well as 67% of people over 18, Hogan said, adding that the state is trying to hit 70% by Memorial Day.

“The goal is just to get those reluctant folks or the people that just haven’t thought about it,” Hogan said.

There are now more than 3,000 locations in Maryland where people can get a shot, including 13 mass vaccination sites where no appointments are necessary.

“It’s clearer than ever that these vaccines are extremely effective,” Hogan said. “Today our seven-day positivity rate is 2.06% — the lowest it has ever been during the entire pandemic and the eighth lowest in America.”

The governor said the COVID-19 case rate is 5.5 per 100,000 Maryland residents.

Ever the promoter, Medenica highlighted the odds in the lottery’s latest game. He put them at about 3 million to 1, compared to 300 million to 1 for MegaMillions.

“But you’ve got to be in it to win it, as we like to say,” Medenica said.