: Babydog the bulldog is begging people to enter West Virginia’s vaccine lottery

United States

Who can say no to this face — or the chance to win a million bucks, a college scholarship or a new truck?

While half of U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, states like Ohio and New York are trying to appeal to the still-unvaccinated population by offering chances to win big prizes in exchange for getting the Moderna MRNA, +3.29%, Pfizer PFE, +0.17% or Johnson & Johnson JNJ, +0.39% jabs. 

Or maybe an adorable dog could get folks to roll over and roll up their sleeves?

While announcing West Virginia’s new vaccine incentives on Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice also made his picturesque English bulldog, Babydog, the mascot of the state’s upcoming COVID-19 vaccine lottery.

“If you won’t do it for your family, you’ve got to get vaccinated for Babydog. That’s all there is to it.” 

— Gov. Jim Justice

“She wants you to get vaccinated so badly,” Justice says in a news clip that went viral overnight Thursday into Friday after it was tweeted out by an NBC producer. It led to “Babydog” trending on Twitter TWTR, +0.14% throughout the day on Friday. 

Beginning June 20, West Virginia will be giving away a million-dollar grand prize, some additional cash prizes, college scholarships, pickup trucks and more through a series of lottery drawings for West Virginians who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. The governor said that there will be more details about the prizes released next week. 

In the meantime, many people vowed they would roll over and get vaccinated for Babydog. Some Americans who already received their shots even joked about getting vaccinated again. 

All kidding aside, there have been encouraging signs that U.S. vaccination rates are improving. The country hit an important milestone earlier this week, when the CDC reported that half of adults are now fully vaccinated, and a little more than 60% have received at least one dose. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll suggests that overall adult vaccination rates could even reach 70% this summer.

On Friday, California announced that it will also be giving away millions of dollars to vaccinated residents who get a coronavirus vaccine under its “Vax for the Win” program. Ten Californians will win $ 1.5 million each, 30 people will get $ 50,000 each, and two million people will collect $ 50 gift cards for a grand total of up to $ 116.5 million in prizes. This trended high on Google GOOGL, +0.23% throughout the day on Friday. 

Related: Nick Offerman urges everyone to get vaccinated against COVID: ‘Medicine doesn’t care who you voted for’

Ohio, which rolled out the country’s inaugural COVID vaccine lottery, awarded its first two winners on Wednesday night. And over the next month, adult Ohioans who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose will be entered into a random drawing to win $ 1 million, while vaccinated residents between the ages of 12 and 17 will be part of a drawing to get a four-year scholarship to an Ohio public university. There will be five winners for each prize selected over five weeks through June 23. 

So do such cash incentives pay off? Apparently so — Ohio saw its COVID-19 vaccination rate jump 45% between May 14-19 compared with the previous week, thanks in part to the state’s Vax-A-Million lottery. Last week, the state said it recorded a 28% spike in vaccinations in the days following the lottery announcement. 

Read more: Ohio sees COVID vaccination rate soar 45% since announcing Vax-A-Million lottery

And now several other states are trying similar incentives. Colorado and Oregon also recently launched $ 1 million lottery jackpots for vaccinated residents. Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a “Vax & Scratch” program, where New Yorkers 18 and older who get vaccinated between May 24-28 at select mass vaccination sites will receive a free $ 20 scratch-off ticket for a chance to win up to $ 5 million. And Maryland’s VaxCash lottery announced last week will award one vaccinated resident a $ 40,000 prize each day between May 25 and July 3, leading up to a grand prize drawing on July 4 for a $ 400,000 prize. 

Among other tasty incentives, Krispy Kreme is giving away a free doughnut every day to vaccinated Americans who show their vaccine card through the end of the year, joining other businesses in doling out free beer, cannabis treats and other perks for getting the shot(s).