Gov. Newsom announces winners
Gov. Gavin Newsom announces vaccine incentive winners in a game-show format. Image from livestream

Fifteen more vaccinated California residents — including three from Los Angeles County and one each from Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties — were chosen by the state Friday to receive $50,000 prizes in a COVID-19 vaccine incentive program.

The new winners join 15 who were chosen last week as part of the state’s $116.5 million “Vax for the Win” incentive program announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom in hopes of luring people to get the COVID-19 shots.

The winners chosen Friday were not publicly identified, with recipients picked using a lottery-type system of numbered ping-pong balls, with the numbers corresponding with one of the state’s  21.98 million eligible residents.

Winners will be contacted by the state in the coming days. Newsom, who oversaw the selection ceremony remotely from Vista, noted that two of the 15 winners chosen last week could not be reached, and two alternate winners were chosen from last week’s finalists.

Of all eligible residents, the pool was randomly pared down to 200, then winnowed to 50. The final selection was done using a Bingo-style machine, with 50 numbered balls dropping into a twirling cylinder, from which the 15 winners were chosen.

Almost everyone in the state who has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine is eligible for the drawing. However, to actually receive the money, winners will have to complete the vaccination protocol by receiving their second dose, unless they received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Employees of the governor’s office and various other state agencies were ineligible for the drawing, along with people who are incarcerated.

At the event in Vista, Newsom presented a ceremonial $50,000 check to one of the winners from last week’s drawing, 17-year-old Nancy Gutierrez. Since she is under 18, her prize will actually be placed into a savings account until she turns 18.

Under the state’s “Vax for the Win” program, $50 gift or grocery cards are being awarded to 2 million people who get their first dose of vaccine, while supplies last.

On Tuesday, the day California lifts the bulk of its COVID-19 restrictions, the state will pick 10 winners who will receive $1.5 million each.

Newsom said the incentive program has been effective, noting that the state has seen a 13% week-over-week uptick in the number of vaccines administered — making California one of only a handful of states to see an increase in vaccination rates.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, said Wednesday that 65% of California residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 53% are fully vaccinated. Ghaly noted that the state’s rate of residents with at least one dose is likely above 70%, due to delays in reporting.

Newsom stressed there is more work to be done to improve vaccination rates among hard-hit communities, particularly among Black and Latino residents. He noted that additional incentives are being offered by some businesses next week to people who are vaccinated:

  • Taco Bell will provide free beef Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos taco to vaccinated customers on Tuesday.
  • Chipotle will give vaccinated customers a free topping or side serving of Queso Blanco with the purchase of a full-priced entree item Tuesday.
  • The Los Angeles Clippers will provide vaccinated customers a 15% discount on team merchandise in its online store from Tuesday through June 20.
  • And the Staples Center Team LA Store will provide a 15% discount for vaccinated customers, also from Tuesday through June 20.

Updated at 3:36 p.m. June 11, 2021