Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) announced Thursday that the state will enter all Maryland adults who have received the COVID-19 vaccine in daily lottery drawings between May 25 and July 4.
For the first 40 days of the promotion, there will be a daily drawing with one $40,000 winner. It will culminate with a $400,000 winner on Independence Day.
“Our mission is to ensure that no arm is left behind and we are committed to leaving no stone unturned,” Hogan said at a news conference outside Government House, the governor’s mansion in Annapolis.
In all, the state will be spending $2 million of lottery funds in an effort to encourage more Marylanders to get vaccinated. Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Director Gordon Medenica said the funding would come from an existing agency account earmarked for marketing.
Hogan said two-thirds of all Marylanders 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine — and that 87% of all people 65 and older have. But as in most states, there are segments of the population that have resisted getting the vaccine.
Maryland will become the second state to offer the chance of lottery winnings to people who have been vaccinated. Ohio was the first, offering five drawings with a $1 million winner each time.
A key difference, Hogan said, is that Maryland has a much greater vaccination rate than the Buckeye State.
“For them it was sort of a ‘Hail Mary’ touchdown pass,” he said. “For us, it was cleaning up and trying to get over the goal line.”
Medenica said officials believe a daily drawing will build interest in the prize money and will entice more people to become vaccinated. He said the lottery agency would take data from the Maryland Department of Health’s list of people who have already been vaccinated, feed them into a computer, and then choose daily winners at random without initially knowing their identities. Officials then will contact the winners and hope they’ll be willing to come forward and publicize their prize money.
“This is one of the more creative lottery promotions that we’ve ever done,” Medenica said. “Everybody is a winner, because if you get vaccinated that contributes to the general health of everyone.”
State officials conceded they weren’t sure how many more Marylanders will sign up to receive the vaccine just because they know they’re eligible for potential lottery winnings. Maryland has already promised $100 to every state employee who receives the vaccine, and Hogan is encouraging businesses to offer incentives of their own. Ledo Pizza, for example, is offering a free pie for everyone who gets a COVID shot in May and June, he said.