Coronavirus response | Governor giving Illinoisans a shot at $1 million | Coronavirus


SPRINGFIELD — That COVID-19 vaccination won’t just protect you from a potentially deadly disease. It may also be worth up to $1 million in cash or a full-ride college scholarship if you live in Illinois.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker rolled out a $10 million promotion called “All in for the Win” Thursday, making $7 million in cash prizes available to vaccinated adults and $3 million in scholarships available to vaccinated youths ages 12-17.

The governor also announced Thursday that Illinois has become the first Midwestern state to hit President Joe Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of adults with at least one dose of vaccine.

“All in for the Win is yet another way we’re working to ensure every single resident is protected from COVID-19, and especially this virus’s more dangerous variants,” Pritzker said.

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde said she was “ecstatic” about this new promotion.

The prizes are unlikely to motivate people who are dead- set against being vaccinated, she said, but people who simply haven’t bothered to get their shots may now be inspired to roll up their sleeves.

“I think there are some people out there who just haven’t bothered yet, and this might just be the thing for them to make the effort,” Pryde said.

She said it’s important to persuade those who are dragging their feet to get vaccinated over the next couple of months to prevent outbreaks, hospitalizations and deaths come fall — especially as the highly-infectious Delta variant picks up speed.

Everyone in Illinois who has received at least one dose of vaccine will automatically be entered into the promotion that will include a series of cash and scholarship lotteries.

It will run through Aug. 26, with 43 drawings planned for cash prizes — including three jackpot $1 million prizes and 20 $150,000 scholarship awards, according to Pritzker.

Each scholarship, to be provided as a Bright Start 529 College Savings plan, is equivalent to a full ride, including tuition, room and board, at any four-year public university in Illinois.

The scholarships can be used at all public and private four-year and two-year colleges, vocational and technical schools in all states, as well as those abroad that participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid system.

Not vaccinated yet? Illinois residents are urged to get their first shots by July 1 to make sure they’re entered into every drawing. The Illinois Department of Public Health will check vaccination records before each drawing, and once people are entered, they’ll remain eligible for drawings until the promotion ends.

The first lottery, set for July 8, will make one vaccinated Illinois adult a million-dollar winner, and three youths will win $150,000 scholarships that day.

There will also be $100,000 cash prizes available in weekly drawings, and some regional drawings to make sure people from all areas of the state are winners, according to the governor.

The Aug. 26 grand finale will include two million-dollar prizes and 17 scholarship awards.

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