RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — We may soon know who won North Carolina’s first vaccination lottery because almost two dozen potential winners were anonymously selected today. That’s the first step in the process to reveal the actual person who won. 

The vaccine payments are coming from the North Carolina Department of Health And Human Services, but it needed the lottery to help because that agency has the equipment, expertise, and experience in determining lottery winners. 

Tickets with your winning numbers — that’s what everyone visualizes when you say “lottery.” 

In a game like Powerball or Mega Million, you opt-in by choosing numbers and buying tickets. But, the picking of the vaccine lottery winners is different because it begins anonymously. 

Today’s drawing was anti-climatic.  

Every eligible person whose been vaccinated has a number associated with their name in a secure file in an NCDHHS database. 

All the numbers associated with those names were fed into the lottery’s random number generator. 

That’s a laptop with a program used to pick numbers at random. 

The machine only pics the number. There were no names on the lottery computer. Those numbers have to be matched by NCDHHS to the names in its database to figure out the name of the real winner. 

“We drew 20 alternate numbers,” said Hattie Gawande, NCDHHS. “It’s unlikely we’ll have to use them, but that’s in case we have to discard several of the winners.” 

Anyone 18 or older who has received one dose of vaccine is eligible. Those under 18 will get scholarship money instead. Each will be selected from one of the numbers chosen today. 

Gawande said as she watched the numbers being generated she began to get unexpectedly excited. 

“I was telling my colleagues I didn’t think it would be that exciting because it’s just a computer printing out a list,” she said. “But, then it kind of hits you, when you see the top tier numbers and realize someone is going to get a million dollars or a scholarship to college.” 

Winners have to accept a lump sum and pay taxes. On $1 million dollars, taxes come out to about one-quarter of your winnings. 

  • The federal government takes $240,000 in taxes  
  • The State of North Carolina takes another $52,500 dollars  
  • Your cut is $707,000. 

“The point of this is to encourage vaccination and we really want someone who can demonstrate to people what vaccination looks like,” said Gawande. “They’ll be an ambassador for vaccines. 

NCDHHS says it should take several days to contact and verify the actual adult and scholarship winners.  

If you don’t win on this lottery, don’t fret. They’ll be three more of them between now and August.