West Virginia offering guns as prizes in COVID vaccine lottery

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They have the right, and some incentive, to bare arms!

West Virginians who get the COVID-19 vaccine will be entered into a drawing to win prizes including custom firearms and $1 million, Gov. Jim Justice announced Tuesday in the latest initiative by a state government to boost inoculation efforts.

June 20 — Father’s Day — will mark the first of a series of weekly drawings running through Aug. 4, the Republican governor said during a press briefing.

“To be eligible, you have got to get your first shot,” said Justice. “When I start through these prizes … there’s going to be a run on people getting their first shot. So go get ’em. Go get ’em so you’ll be eligible where we can draw your name, and absolutely you could win something that would be phenomenal.”

Prizes up for grabs in the June 20 drawing include five custom hunting rifles, five custom hunting shotguns, two tricked-out pickup trucks and five lifetime hunting and fishing permits, said Justice, whose PowerPoint pitch included a photo of his bird dog, Jazz.

The Father’s Day drawing also includes two four-year scholarships to any West Virginia educational institution — for winners between the ages of 12 and 25 — as well as a $1 million grand prize, Justice said.

The drawing is open to West Virginians who received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine dating back to the winter, meaning early adopters won’t be left out in the cold.

According to data from the West Virginia government and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 51.1 percent of Mountain State residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, outperforming the national figure of 50.5 percent.

For those constituents who might not be convinced by the lure of prizes, Justice also leaned on regional rivalry.

“I can’t stand for Ohio to get ahead of us on anything,” he said.

Ohio last month announced five $1 million drawings for those who get the vaccine, joining a nationwide wave of state and local governments offering inoculation incentives.

New Jersey partnered with local breweries to give vaccine recipients of legal drinking age a free beer, while New York has offered everything from sports tickets to scratch-offs to Shake Shack fries in an effort to sway skeptics.

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