California's reopening is pegged for June 15, and on that day a drawing will be held to award 10 vaccinated people the top prize.
California will offer $116.5 million USA in cash and gift cards to residents who get COVID-19 vaccinations before June 15, the latest - and most lucrative - incentive by U.S. states desperate to persuade laggards and vaccine skeptics to get the injection. Ten Californians who become inoculated before that date stand to win lottery-style prizes of US$1.5 million apiece, while another 30 people will each win US$50,000. The announcement of those winners will be evenly split across June 4 and June 11.
Both contests are open to residents ages 12 and up with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Winners under the age of 18 will have their winnings put into savings accounts for when they are of-age.
"Some Californians weren't ready to get their Covid-19 vaccine on day one, and that's OK", said Dr Tomas Aragon, director of the California Department of Public Health.
Eighth grader Joseph Costello, centre, of Englewood, Ohio, victor of the Ohio Vax-a-Million, full college scholarship vaccination incentive prize, seen here on Thursday with his parents Colleen and Rich Costello.
The incentive is to get people who are hesitant a push to get vaccinated.
Beginning May 27, the next 2 million people who start and complete their COVID-19 vaccination will automatically be eligible for a $50 prepaid or grocery store gift cards from Kroger or Albertsons and their affiliates. "What about everybody else that did the right thing?" he said Thursday. "These are an opportunity to say thank you to those not only seeking to get vaccinated as we move forward, but also those that have been vaccinated since we first availed those opportunities a number of months ago".
Newsom planned to make the vaccine incentive announcement Wednesday, but delayed it following a mass shooting in San Jose that morning. "We were waiting for that first dose drop-off to then pull the trigger". California has already made incredible progress in the fight against COVID-19, with the lowest case rates in the country while administering millions more vaccines than any other state. Half of the state's population is fully vaccinated. Anyone 12 and older who has received at least one shot will be eligible.
Newsom praised California residents who went out of their way to get their shots early.
"We've got to get those first-dose numbers up", Newsom said at a press conference in Los Angeles.
"We can't afford to run the 90-yard dash", he said.