NC $1 million vaccination lottery has much better odds than most drawings


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With the drawing for the first state vaccine lottery now just three days away, some people still have questions about how it’ll operate.

This is not going to be like the Powerball or Mega Millions — where you get a ticket.

Instead, the names of those vaccinated are in a pool and a random number generator run by the North Carolina Education Lottery will pick the winners.

But, it could take several days between picking the winner and announcement because state health officials will need to verify the winner’s eligibility. So, the drawing of the random number will be anti-climatic.

The winner won’t be announced for several days after going through a verification process.

The money for the prizes is coming from the Federal Corona Virus Relief Fund, so in a way, you’re paying for it with your tax dollars.

Hattie Gawande of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says the $1 million prize money will be paid in one lump sum.

You’ll are also going to be taxed on it ,too. Here’s the breakdown of that tax bite.

  • Federal taxes at 24 percent, take $240,000
  • North Carolina taxes at 5.25 percent. That’s $52,500
  • Your cut is $707,000

How will you find out if you’ve won?

“You’ll be contacted by someone from our team,” said Gawande, “We’ll contact you by phone or if we contact you by email we’ll tell you we’ll call you back.”

This is the tricky part, because the shots are covered under HIPAA regulations there is security involved.

“You’ll have to consent to having your identity released,” said Gawande. “You’ll also have to consent to share your information with the lottery who’ll pay you, or the state education authority who’ll give you a scholarship if you’re under 18.”

The rules say you must be a North Carolina resident to win. If you live elsewhere and got your shot here, you’re out of the running.

The rules also stipulate you must go public as someone who got the vaccine.

“We’ll need to know you accept the terms and conditions and consent to the publicity,” said Gawande.

The point of the lottery is to get more people to become vaccinated and they’ll be multiple winners all summer long for adults and those under 21.

“Ultimately, four drawings which will have a scholarship winner and a cash winner every two weeks starting this Wednesday,” said Gawande.

The odds will vary depending on how many eligible people have been vaccinated. But the odds are way better than other cash lotteries and will vary depending on how many people have their shots.

  • Vaccination lottery odds are roughly 2 in 4.6 million
  • Powerball odds are about 1 in 292 million
  • Mega Millions usually has odds of 1 in 302 million.

In these days of Robocalls and scammers, how will you be able to tell it’s the state and not some criminal calling you?

“If someone is asking you to pay anything to participate in this promotion it is not the state,” she said. “No one has to pay a dime, and no one has to provide bank details over the phone.”

Among the frequently asked questions, can you collect the cash if you want to stay anonymous?

Because the state is doing this for publicity, the simple answer is no.

“There may be a case where someone says they don’t want the money because they don’t think we’re from the state,” said Gawande. “In that case, we’ll move on to the next person.”

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