"That's right!" Polis declared while taking center stage a few steps away from a giant blank check. "You can win one million dollars! And you might already be entered! Anybody who got the vaccine in Colorado, or anyone who gets the vaccine, will be an automatic participant in not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE drawings for a million dollars! A total of $5 million!"
Polis's hilariously over-the-top enthusiasm was a sharp contrast to his answer last week when he was asked about a lottery-type vaccination incentive of the sort pioneered in Ohio. Back then, the governor more or less shrugged off the notion, arguing that other vaccination events in the state were already offering bonuses for getting immunized (one he mentioned dangled 5,000 miles on Southwest Airlines). And besides, he said, getting the life-saving shots and protecting friends, family and members of the community from catching the novel coronavirus should be enough to make anyone sign up for a jab.
Yet vaccination rates have slowed in Colorado, with supply far outstripping demand at this point.
Hence the Colorado Comeback Cash deal, which is being funded out of CARES Act money that would otherwise have gone to public-service announcements and the like; at the announcement, Polis suggested that the drawings would have a more positive impact on vaccinations than might another batch of TV commercials. The first drawing is slated to happen on Friday, June 4, and everyone vaccinated by June 1 will automatically be entered; subsequent drawings will be held on June 11, June 18, June 25 and July 7. Newly inoculated folks will be eligible after their first shot, but everyone who's already been immunized will have an opportunity to collect in those, too. Only adults age eighteen and over can take home the jackpot, but scholarship prizes will be available to those between the ages of twelve and seventeen; details are expected to be divulged in the coming days.
With Polis at the announcement were Colorado Department of Revenue Executive Director Mark Ferrandino, Colorado Department of Health immunization branch chief Heather Roth and Jennifer Anderson of the Colorado Lottery, which is helping to handle logistics in association with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. They took turns explaining that each person who's been vaccinated will be assigned a randomly generated number. The person whose number is chosen will then be contacted and given the choice of accepting the $1 million prize — which Polis predicted the winners will take, since, having been vaccinated, they're clearly smart. The private medical information of everyone will remain protected, however.
Such nuances were clearly of less interest than the big bucks to Polis, who boasted that the chances of winning one of the drawings are roughly one in 500,000, "which are very good odds — better odds of winning $1 million than in any contest I've ever seen! Better than Powerball!"
Act now! Before it's too late! And before Polis spontaneously combusts!