When Gary Smith crossed the state line from Texas to Arkansas, he had no idea he was making a million dollar decision.
Smith is the first million dollar vaccine lottery winner, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery announced Monday.
The lottery, in which the state uses the prospect of making money to incentivize vaccination, is one of many perks offered in an attempt to increase Arkansas’ low vaccination count.
Smith entered the lottery after getting his second shot on Friday while visiting family in the state, according to a press release from the lottery.
He had a choice between a $ 20 scratch ticket or two Arkansas Game and Fish Commission gift certificates totaling $ 21. After Smith scratched his ticket on Friday, he saw he had won.
“My grandmother was the first person I spoke to about my victory,” Smith said in a statement. “We were both in total shock! She immediately wanted to leave to buy him another ticket.”
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Smith, who works with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, said he would use his earnings to help pay his bills.
“I recently got engaged in April and was blessed to have my dream wedding and honeymoon with my future wife,” Smith said.
For those looking to make big bucks, there’s still a $ 1 million prize and a $ 50,000 ticket outstanding, according to Tiffany McNeal, spokesperson for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery.
The vaccine lottery is a recent incentive to increase the number of overdue vaccinations in the state. With Arkansas ranking near the bottom of the United States in percentage of population fully vaccinated, the state announced in May that it would offer free lottery tickets or Game and Fish gift cards. Commission to those who received the vaccines.
Since the program began, 4,946 lottery tickets have been distributed and 2,001 Game and Fish Commission gift certificates, according to Katie White, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Health.
While Smith is the first $ 1 million winner, 1,428 people have claimed smaller prizes of $ 500 or less.
Arkansas is not the first state to implement a vaccine lottery, as Ohio, California, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon and Louisiana are among those that have offered the incentives similar.