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Governor Announces Custom Gun Giveaway in Bid to Boost COVID Vaccination Rate

Republican Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia has announced that his state will attempt to boost its number of vaccinated residents in a uniquely Mountain State way.

Justice said on Tuesday that as an incentive to get more West Virginians vaccinated against the coronavirus, the state will offer custom guns, cash and other perks for a select few in the state who choose to enter into summer lotteries for those who lift up their sleeves.

Following the lead of states which have created lotteries to promote the number of those who choose to get vaccinated, West Virginia will enter people who get at least one shot into a weekly lottery that offers a lot of cash and prizes, WTRF-TV reported. Those prizes differ, though, when compared with other state vaccine giveaways.

Each lottery will offer the winner $1 million, while some will also receive prizes such as two full-ride scholarships to institutions in the state for people 12 to 25-years-old. The lottery program also gives away two Ford pickup trucks, 25 free getaways to state parks, lifetime fishing and hunting licenses, five custom hunting rifles and five custom shotguns throughout its duration.

The final drawing will occur on Aug. 4, and will pick two grand prize winners. One of those people will get $1,588,000 and the other will receive $588,000.

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“Faster we get them across the finish line, the more money we save,” Justice said about the vaccine effort.

Justice during his media briefing about the lotto joked Tuesday with his state’s residents that his dog will be the mascot of the program, and she wants to see all of them get vaccinated.

“If you won’t do it for your family, you’ve got to get vaccinated for Babydog,” joked Justice. “She wants you vaccinated so badly.”

The state will pay for the program and hopes to achieve seeing at least 75 percent of residents age 50 or older vaccinated. The program is currently preparing to launch a website for interested West Virginians to register.

Ohio, West Virginia’s neighbor to the northwest, is on the second week of its own vaccine lottery program. The second winner of the “Vax-a-Million” program will be announced on Wednesday evening, WLWT-TV reported.

GOP Gov. Mike DeWine calls the weekly winners of the $1 million offered to Ohioans to personally inform them of their big win, he told WLWT.

“Calling someone and telling them they just won a million dollars is a great thing,” he said. “Calling a family and telling them they have a scholarship paid for four years is also fun. Fran [the governor’s wife] and I enjoyed it a lot.”

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The first winner of Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery last week was a 22-year-old recent college graduate who lives near Cincinnati.

“I was completely surprised when I got the call. I still can’t believe it. It was a crazy night,” said Abbigail Bugenske after being called by DeWine.

“I was screaming enough that my parents thought I was crying and that something was wrong,” she told WLWT. “And when I started yelling that I won $1 million and was going to be a millionaire, they told me to calm down and make sure it wasn’t a prank before I really started freaking out.”

Around 2.7 million people had registered for the prize won by Bugenske, who said she has no plans to quit her job.

Wednesday’s winner will be chosen from a poll of 3,225,789 Ohioans.

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Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor and a producer in radio, television and digital media. He is a proud husband and father.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.




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