West Virginia governor warns unvaccinated residents are entering into ‘death lottery’

A nurse prepares a shot with the Covid-19 vaccine. (PA)
A nurse prepares a shot with the Covid-19 vaccine. (PA)
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West Virginia’s Republican governor incentivised vaccinations against Covid-19 for state residents with a lottery that awarded millions in prizes, but is now warning about a very different type of “lottery” for the state’s unvaccinated citizens.

Speaking with ABC News over the 4 July weekend, Governor Jim Justice warned that West Virginians who did not receive a Covid-19 vaccine were gambling with their lives in a “death lottery”.

His comments come as some states are experiencing a rise in new Covid-19 cases linked to the spread of the so-called “Delta” variant in the US.

“When it really boils right down to it, they’re in a lottery to themselves,” said Mr Justice in an interview with ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “We have a lottery, you know, that basically says, ‘if you’re vaccinated, we’re going to give you stuff.’”

“Well you’ve got another lottery going on,” he continued. “And it’s the death lottery.”

Mr Justice was one of a number of US state leaders who sought to increase his state’s vaccination totals by offering the chance at cash prizes to those who got the vaccine.

Last month, he announced the first winner of a $1 million prize as part of the “Do It For Babydog” lottery, named after his personal bulldog and West Virginia’s state Covid-19 sweepstakes mascot, Babydog.

The state is now handing out weekly cash prizes of $1 million to lucky vaccinated West Virginians, and the lottery is also doling out other prizes ranging from customised firearms to scholarships to state universities.

“This is a life-changing opportunity in more ways than one,” the governor said in June. “You have the power to not only safeguard your health as we continue to battle Covid-19, but you can also take home a number of wonderful prizes. It’s a win-win situation that I hope all West Virginians will take advantage of.”

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